There is no denying that "Charlie St. Cloud" is a cookie cutter drama about letting go. If you've seen the trailer, you know what you are in for. The trailer hides nothing and delivers essentially the abridged version of the movie in under 3 minutes. While the film is ultimately predictable, it does have an uplifting performance by Zac Efron and delivers just enough of a message to keep you engaged.
The message "Charlie St. Cloud" hammers home is right there starring you in the face on the poster. "Life is for living." Craig Pearce and Lewis Colick's screenplay is adapted off of Ben Sherwood's novel which dealt with a brothers struggle to let go of his brother who died. Charlie see's his dead brother. He talks to him everyday. They play catch in the woods. Charlie can not get past the fact that his brother is gone and the story revolves around him learning to move on and cope with his death.
What gives Charlie his lesson of course, is amongst the living. He meets a girl who shows him a reason for living in the now and moving on. The film is peppered with a formulaic love story and shows Charlie the way to live for himself. Even though the love story leans on the formulaic side, their is some ingenuity in there that gave me a smile. Writers Pearce and Lewis were able to give the viewer a tiny bit of mystery behind a film that seemed all too obvious.
The setting of "Charlie St. Cloud" is stunning. Filmed in a costal town of British Columbia, Canada the movie looks absolutely gorgeous. Cinematographer Enrique Chediak does a majestic job of capturing the costal town and giving it a New England feel. It helps that there are numerous shots of sunsets along the Eastern seaside that give the viewer a glimpse into just how beautiful the ocean is. Rolfe Kent also provides a memorable score that moves the emotional 99 minute story along.
The performances throughout "Charlie St. Cloud" are solid. Efron carries the movie with ease. Even a casual viewer who might have a disposition against Efron, could find themselves warming up to his charm. Charlie Tahan who previously played the little boy in "I Am Legend" also does a good job sharing the screen with Efron. Much of Efron and Tahan's relationship and or dialogue helps lead Charlie to where his character should be and the two younger actors do a notable job of doing so. The adorable Amanda Crew also does a admirable job in her small yet effective portrayal of Tess. Crew is of course the love interest throughout the drama and her and Efron do a darn good job of steaming up the screen where they need to.
"Charlie St. Cloud" is a movie that you know full well what you are going to see. The film delivers a few surprises, but mainly just plays up what it is suppose to, which is driving home a message. You could easily perceive that message as cheesy and certainly the film has some more derived moments, but that is its intention. For what it is, the film does a solid job of leading a character through a very hard journey, coping with the loss of a loved one.