In Review: The Last Song

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Another Nicholas Sparks Tearjerker

Are you a fan of Miley Cyrus? Can Nicholas Sparks do no wrong in your eyes? Do you enjoy movies that use every tactic known to movie makers in an attempt to make you cry? If you answered in the positive to any or all of the above questions then it’s quite likely that The Last Song is the movie for you.

Set in present day Georgia, The Last Song is another tearjerker that has sprung forth from the mind of Nicholas Sparks. Still bitter from her parents’ decision to divorce three years previously, Veronica “Ronnie” Miller (Miley Cyrus) has become somewhat of a delinquent. Once a classical piano prodigy on the road to greatness, she is now an outcast of the community who has had repeated arrests for minor infractions. Believing it to be the only option, her mother, Kim (Kelly Preston), sends Ronnie and her younger brother, Jonah (Bobby Coleman) to stay with their father, a concert pianist named Steve (Greg Kinnear), for the summer. While there, Steve and Jonah are able to reconnect as they work on a stained glass window for the fire-damaged local church. However, as she has not spoken to her father since he left, Ronnie decides to keep the relationship just as strained. Instead, she dedicates her energy to protecting a Loggerhead Turtle nest. Though they butted heads before, thanks to their mutual desire to save the turtles, Ronnie is able to befriend (and later fall in love with) a local boy named Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth). Yet, when middle class Ronnie meets Will’s wealthy family and it becomes clear that the Blakelees will not condone the relationship, Ronnie begins to second guess her love for Will. If that weren’t enough for young Ronnie, she learns around this time that her father is unwell and that he requested that Kim bring the children down so that they can say goodbye. Will Ronnie and Will’s relationship be able to thrive despite their class differences? Can Steve overcome odds and beat his Cancer? Who actually set the fire at the local church? To learn the answers to these questions, you must see the movie.

Directed by Julie Anne Robinson with a script by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song is an okay movie. It follows the Nicholas Sparks formula (innocent love + familial opposition/ society’s views + health crisis=touching movie) correctly, but it leaves much to be desired. Watching the movie, you are reminded that the story was written for Miley Cyrus, a cute kid who desperately needs some acting lessons. Though it’s clear that Cyrus does her best to relate the material and win our hearts, she is easily overshadowed by veteran actor, Greg Kinnear, and the relative newcomer, Bobby Coleman. The best parts of the film are the scenes with Kinnear and Coleman. They have true chemistry and make you laugh without saying a word. Unfortunately, the film is not meant to showcase either actor, but, instead, Cyrus which may explain why the film has received more than a few bad reviews.

Despite its flaws, The Last Song conveys an important message about love and the many ways we define it. Often (especially when you’re Miss Cyrus’s age) when we think of love we think of it in the romantic sense. We meet someone and feel an attraction for them that turns into a strong like that turns into love. We see hearts and flowers. We mentally plan out what our life together will be like if things progress as they should. For many, love is what you see in the movies when lovers are spiritually lifted up by an unseen force and are serenaded by violins as they share in a magical kiss. Rarely do we think of love as what motivates us to hold a parent, sibling or other relative’s hand as they nervously await the news of whether or not they’ll be alive for Christmas. This type of love is a challenge that has no soundtrack and doesn’t fill you with an addictive rush. Yet, it is a love that can’t be discarded and has absolutely nothing to do with how good you look in jeans or the style of your hair. Speaking personally, I know it took far too long for me to understand that dedicating your days to finding romantic love while under-appreciating the people who have loved you since the day you were conceived is a life half lived. True love can only be found once you learn to balance all of the sections of your heart. Hopefully this movie can turn others onto this idea.

While it’s obviously geared towards a younger crowd, I wouldn’t write The Last Song off as a “teen movie”. And while I wouldn’t recommend you spend ten plus dollars on a ticket to see it in the theater, I do hope you’ll catch it as a rental in a few months or on basic television years from now. It has a good message and maybe Miley Cyrus’s performance won’t come off so badly in the light lit by nostalgia.

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