Middle Row, Centre: Just an Old-Fashioned Love Story

There are no car chases in Charlie St. Cloud.

No explosions. No endless battle scenes. No vampires. Just a good old-fashioned love story, set in a graveyard.

Charlie St. Cloud stars Zac Efron, who breaks away here from his usual teen flicks like Seventeen Again and High School Musical, and Amanda Crew, a 24-year-old from Langley, BC, whose only other major role has been in last year’s Canadian-made horror thriller The Haunting In Connecticut.

Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who seems to have everything going for him. An avid baseball fan and an expert at sailing, he’s devoted to his younger brother, Sam, who also shares his passions. He offers to help Sam perfect his curve ball, on condition that he shows up promptly every day without fail at sunset for their practice sessions.

Then one night everything is changed, when Sam is killed in a car crash while Charlie is driving.

At the graveside, Charlie is astonished to see Sam watching the proceedings from a comfortable distance. Five years later, Charlie is working as a groundskeeper at the cemetery where his brother is buried. Full of grief and guilt, he has kept his promise to Sam that they will never be parted.

His life continues on in this pattern, until he meets up with Tess Carroll, a sailing expert herself, who plans to sail around the world on a six-month-long voyage. When Tess is caught up in a storm on a practice run through Puget Sound, her life changes in ways she never dreamed of, as does Charlie’s.

This is the second film that director Buff Steers has worked on with Efron, their previous outing being Seventeen Again.

Charlie St. Cloud is a thoughtful movie, full of insight into life and death and the space in between.

Sherwood’s novel was set in the seaside towns of Massachusetts, but the film’s location was shifted to Vancouver and Gibsons, BC to save on production costs.

Crew turns in a fine performance as Tess, and matches the novel’s description of her almost perfectly. There’s good chemistry between her and Efron, and although the film is not an exact interpretation of the book, it’s a very good adaptation.

To say that it has a haunting quality to it sounds like an ironic play on words, but it bears some truth. Unfortunately, Charlie St. Cloud doesn’t seem to be doing too well with the critics or at the box office, so you’d best be advised to catch it while you can.

Charlie St. Cloud plays at 7 and 9:10 p.m. at the Yukon Theatre, and is rated PG.

Brian Eaton is a cinema buff who reviews current films and writes on other film-related topics on a regular basis.

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