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Death & Life of Charlie St Cloud


Stars: Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Charlie Tahan, Donal Logue, Augustus Prew, Ray Liotta, Kim Basinger

Director: Burr Steers

Like their leading character, the makers of this film have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality. The impossibly good-looking Efron is the eponymous Charlie, a sailing champ whose close bond with younger brother Sam (Tahan) is broken when the latter is killed in a car crash from which Charlie narrowly escapes with his own life, thanks to the last-ditch efforts of a paramedic (Liotta).

Mom (Basinger) moves away and Charlie is left to tend the local graveyard, now an almost friendless oddball who keeps daily baseball-throwing trysts with a ghostly Sam when the coastal cannon sounds.

But then Charlie sets sight on yachtswoman Tess (Crew), who plans to sail around the world. Does he make love to her before she disappears? Do they sail together, or does she just vanish into a storm? And, if she's not dead, what is her ghost doing walking the streets?

For a waterbound film, this is appropriately wet, and aimed largely at sub-teen fans of Efron, who were well in evidence at the preview. And their idol has never looked lovelier! But the film, blandly acted and tricky to follow, has little to offer to anyone but girls under the age of 15. And British actor Prew is jarringly out of place as Charlie's only mate, coming on like a damper version of Russell Brand.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
99 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Oct 2010