The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud (2010)

Having already landed a sailing scholarship to Stanford University, Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) is looking forward to finally flying the nest and putting his small-town syndrome to good use; until, that is, a series of brutal collisions leave younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) dead and Charlie himself racked with guilt. Having previously promised to practice baseball with him every day until he leaves for college, Charlie finds himself at the mercy of an inexplicable supernatural contract. Taking up a job at the local cemetery, Charlie continues to meet Sam at sunset every day to carry out his part of the agreement and to spend a little extra time with the brother he lost. When a fellow sailor (Amanda Crew) goes missing, however, Charlie is faced with the prospect that his ability may have a greater purpose.

Before leaving my job at The Cinema That Must Not Be Named I had the opportunity as a budding projectionist to make up my very first movie – taking care to ensure that each reel and electronic tag was present and accounted for, preferably even in the right order. That film, for the delectation of Edinburgh’s senior cinema-goers, was The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.

Now, I realise that it is not particularly cool to accept Zac Efron as a bona fide actor; however, my negative stance on Christopher Nolan’s Bat-verse and the copy of Hannah Montana: The Movie that frequents my DVD player have already served to rob me of a place in any respectable in-crowd. In a role that requires more than one emotion – and which doesn’t allow him to dance his way out any and all thespian tight spots – The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud stands testament to the inescapable reality that this kid (who am I kidding, man) has talent.

In stark contrast to the nauseating artificiality of the High School Musical franchise, and off the back of the surprisingly enjoyable teen comedy 17 Again, Efron has re-teamed with director Burr Steers for an altogether more demanding drama. Centring on a well-handled tragedy, the film is a far cry from the vampiric Mills and Boons propagated by the Twilight saga. In contrast, Charlie St. Cloud is a delightfully grounded affair, albeit one with a supernatural twist and heavily contrived graveside tryst, largely thanks to Efron’s well natured and multi-layered performance. Whereas the emotional truths tapped both by the unconventional brotherhood and central romance might have resulted in stifling sentimentalism, however, a winning sense of humour and refreshing earnest streak successfully offset any feelings of nausea.

However, from the more sweeping instrumentals to the tour-de-force Magic Show – which carries us through the credits and provides a delightful accompaniment to a consistently sturdy and competent drama – it is undoubtedly the film’s arresting soundtrack which made the biggest impression on me. Nevertheless, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is a timeless tale of love and loss which is well worth a look on DVD as you more than likely missed it in the crowd of time-travelling robots and superhero sequels which dominated multiplexes in its initial year of release.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud (2010)

  1. Pingback: August 2011 – Smurfity smurf smurf smurf! « popcornaddict

  2. Pingback: The Lucky One (2012) « popcornaddict

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