Rewind Review- The Last Song (2010)

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in The Last Song (Touchstone Pictures)

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

A film like The Last Song is one that seems innocuous enough, as the Brazilian phrase goes “sugar-water,” such that you think “What’s the harm?” You may think that’s true enough but the problem is that this film falls into plenty of common traps and makes next to no attempts at an uncommon escape.

One of the larger issues facing this film is the overly-convenient inter-connection that exists among the characters in this small coastal town. There is a screenwriting axiom which states that there will be the occasional character that insists on his or her presence within a given story, however, in this film there are characters like Blaze and Marcus who are insisted upon and don’t always fit logically or narratively in the situations into which they are thrust.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that the only relationship the film really consistently works to build is that between Will (Liam Hemsworth) and Ronnie (Miley Cyrus). It is the only one that builds realistically. For example, Ronnie and Blaze become very fast friends, too fast in fact and in seemingly one of the only things in this film done visually.

Yet even this relationship has its struggles in making itself be narratively relative and intriguing. For example, first Ronnie is very slow to let her guard down with Will. Which if she was always anti-social would make perfect sense, but then we just discussed the quick and quickly regrettable union with Blaze. Then there is also the fact that she not only takes the first opportunity to distance herself from Will but also after the relationship has gone further and deeper gives him no chance to explain himself and throws it all out the window. Granted it’s the kind of separation needed in such a tale, it’s just too sudden and this is an incident where you can and should stretch it out.

The film gets off to a slow start due to the fact the characters that are very broadly drawn and in vague situations made vaguer by the situation they are in. At the beginning everyone has baggage but no one opens it for far too long, if you’ll forgive the metaphor. Instead you get a teenage girl who is just angsty and a divorced dad who is merely aloof and out of touch with no other background information for far too long.

Thus, the flatness of the story in many ways does not help some of the performers at all, particularly Miley Cyrus. Especially considering that The Last Song, which the film talks of is not one she sings and this just a marketing ploy basically. Her performance is not awful but is nothing memorable or to write home about and could’ve just as easily been anyone.

The rest of the cast manages. Liam Hemsworth is easily leading man material and could do more with better material with which to work, having said that he does help to lend some urgency to this trite relationship. Greg Kinnear does well with this part and it’s a reminder of what this former Talk Soup host can do and perhaps that he should not just be known as the “Grape-smuggling” coach in The Bad News Bears. Most impressive in the film is Bobby Coleman, best known to some as the title character in The Martian Child, who plays the younger brother in this film and delivers a very compelling performance. Towards the end he does quite a bit of crying and considering this is his second tear-jerker style movie it can now be said with no exaggeration that his abilities as a crier now rank amongst the all-time greats, rivaling even Bobs Watson.

The film can’t make it through a seemingly simple denouement without tripping up either. Without spoiling, you have dialogue where the visual suffices and the change in previously established characters acting as a catharsis. Even with a relatively simple end this film doesn’t know how to play it.

There is nothing different and unique here and certainly not the best the genre has to offer.