The Last Song
(PG) Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Kelly Preston, Greg Kinnear
Nicolas Sparks seems to be the go-to guy for romance and kitchen sink dramas of late — Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, The Notebook. They now seem to have their own genre.
His latest adaptation can be seen as the film in which Miley Cyrus grows up.
The template for a Sparks adaptation is now set in stone: two people meet from vastly different backgrounds, fall in love, have to deal with that love in the real world of compromise and disappointment and a tragedy befalls one or both of them leaving lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In this case the mismatched couple are Ronnie Miller (Cyrus) and Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth). He is from a well-to-do family and has his future clearly mapped out for him: prestigious school and following in daddy’s footsteps. She is a rebel without a cause: a musical child prodigy, she had a great future ahead of her and is outwardly making everybody’s life miserable.
Meanwhile Ronnie and Will are destined to be on the outer of the Blakelee family as they don’t approve of Ronnie’s lack of direction.
The film boasts excellent support from Greg Kinnear as father Steve, his patience with daughter Ronnie among the film’s more affecting scenes as she navigates an angry path through their divorce.
Although the book-ending performance (she appears at the beginning and end of the film) from Kelly Preston — as Kim, Ronnie’s mother — seems a bit superfluous, this is because, at its heart, the film is about a father and daughter who have lost touch and both are struggling to find a way back into each other’s lives.
Cyrus plays emotionally closed-off Ronnie well and, as her guard is let down during the course of the film, she opens up emotionally to her father through their shared love of music.
The film encourages us to treasure what we have because it can so quickly be taken away. Themes of love, acceptance and forgiveness despite the teenage angst ring true.
Even a heart-wrenching denouement that seems a little forced will probably not ruin fans’ enjoyment of Cyrus’s first serious young adult role.
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