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LAST SONG, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In a small Southern beach town, estranged father Steve Miller (Greg Kinnear) is visited by his young son Jonah (Bobby Coleman) and rebellious teenage daughter Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) for the summer. But Ronnie would rather be home in New York, making her frustration clear until she meets tall, handsome Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth) on the beach. As Ronnie tries to sort out her priorities, she realizes ignoring the musical talents that had always drawn her close to her father, is a mistake.

Review by Louise Keller:
Bad melodrama by numbers is the formula for the latest tearjerker from the writer of A Walk To Remember and The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks. It's Mills and Boon from start to finish as Miley Cyrus pouts all the way through manipulated movie moments that are meant to move us. There are no excuses for writer Nicholas Sparks, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Van Wie: the set-up and the story are as unbelievable as the characters and the way they react with each other. TV director Julie Ann Robinson meanwhile, is out of her comfort zone.

I really liked Cyrus in Hannah Montana, where she showed herself to be a formidable talent oozing with personality and appealing chutzpah. But here, with unnatural pouting lips and an attitude that swings from the worst example of teenage angst to clawing, sugary puff, there is nothing to like. It's hard to care for the film's central character, when you feel like slapping some sense into her.

The film professes to examine the fragility of love and relationships. Cyrus's bad-girl musical prodigy Ronnie refuses to play the piano and has taken to shoplifting since her Mum (Kelly Preston) and Dad (Greg Kinnear) divorced. Now that she is forced to spend the summer with her Dad, she slips into the role of insufferable brat. As for the central relationship between Ronnie and Liam Hemsworth's Will Blakelee, the tall, handsome, rich boy with his own family problems, it is simply unbelievable. The line 'I love you', which comes out of the blue, was greeted with chortles of laughter by many in the preview audience. More laughter came as the sun shone through a stained glass window of a church at what should have been a heartfelt and touching moment.

The subplots of Will's dead brother, his ex-girlfriend, the local girl with the abusive boyfriend, the arson and the nest of sea-turtle eggs in jeopardy are conveniently plotted to little avail. The best thing in the film is 13 year old Bobby Coleman as Ronnie's younger brother Jonah, who cries real tears and makes us believe what he is saying. By the time we hear the last song of the title, we are beyond caring.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

LAST SONG, THE (PG)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Coleman, Liam Hemsworth, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Nick Lashaway, Carly Chaikin, Nick Searcy

PRODUCER: Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman

DIRECTOR: Julie Ann Robinson

SCRIPT: Jeff Van Wie, Nicholas Sparks (novel by Sparks)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley

EDITOR: Nancy Richardson

MUSIC: Aaron Zigman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nelson Coates

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 1, 2010







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