Technically, Charlie St. Cloud is about a promising young man (Zac Efron), about to leave for Stanford on a sailing scholarship, who is driving his kid brother one night when they are struck by a truck. Charlie flatlines, but is revived by a medic (Ray Liotta). Eleven-year-old Sam (Charlie Tahan) doesn’t make it.
But in reality, Charlie St. Cloud is about Zac Efron’s face. Sometimes his abs, too, but mostly his face. Director Burr Steers shoots him in beautiful, golden light, always in closeup, often for several exquisite moments at a time.
Zac Efron face porn aside, Charlie St. Cloud plays like a particuarly mystical installment of the Nicholas Sparks canon. Five years after Sam’s death, Charlie has deferred the scholarship and is now the caretaker at the graveyard where his brother is buried. He also has kept a promise to play catch with Sam every day at sundown. Oh yeah, and he also sometimes has conversations with a good buddy . . . who died in the Iraq War.
I suppose you...