Movie review: The Last Song

Movie review: The Last Song

Score

Miley Cyrus moves into a "dramatic" role - but acts like she's been created using CGI

The Last Song

Cert: PG, 107 mins

Starring: Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear

Miley Cyrus was apparently “bombed” that her London premiere of The Last Song was cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano. What could this mean, you wonder? Is it good, bad, medium?

Hard to tell, but at least one thing is clear. Cyrus – the artist no longer generally known as Hannah Montana if she’s got anything to do with it – is breaking out, rash-like, into more “dramatic” roles.

Like a oil tanker suddenly asked to hang a left, in the world of a supreme teen titan like Hannah Montana, this is no simple operation. Her mother – Tish Cyrus – swings into action here as the film’s executive producer. Nicholas Sparks – the high chief of making teen girls blub following adaptations of his books The Notebook and Dear John – was mobilised, asked to adapt his own book this time, and ordered to start writing drippy lovelorn dialogue, stat.

All that was left was a beefy hunk, who 17-year-old Miley could initially be a bit “no way” about, and soon be all LOLs with (former Neighbours beefcake Liam Hemsworth), and, finally, a half-decent actor on the slide, who’ll take the paycheck to play her father, before spending the rest of his career trying to convince IMDB.com that the part was actually played by one of the Baldwin brothers (Greg Kinnear).

Sparks’ stories – girl loves guy, girl hates guy, someone dies, girl loves guy again but now in a soulful way – aren’t just tried and tested, they’re rigidly system-analysed, slightly tweaked, and sold to us again and again – like an updated iPhone or the latest BMW. It’s tender romance created using Vorsprung durch Technik.

This particular version – I don’t think we can call it an upgrade – sees Cyrus as moody teen Ronnie, a gifted musician who’s no longer playing the piano in order to spite her father. Ronnie is supposed to be rebellious, but it’s certainly the nice kind – she doesn’t smoke, drink, or take drugs, and casually reads Tolstoy while helping sea turtles on the side. What. A. Bitch.

She’s spending the summer with her divorced dad at his beach-front pad, and soon bumps into said hunk, who, luckily enough, loves nothing better than to reject the hot bikini babes who are fainting at his feet, in favour of expending endless effort wooing Cyrus‘ moody, sulky, rude, sour, plain, monosyllabic piece of hot stuff.

Cyrus does fine with the moody, sulky, pouty part, but the inevitable lesson-learning “drama” that comes when somebody coughs and the undertakers come running (the predictability of this makes Sparks the only Hollywood writer who manages to make death boring) seems beyond her. She says the lines okay – just not, seemingly, to the human beings around her. The disconnect is weird – like she’s been created in CGI, and the real-life actors are all missing their marks.

You’re left with the impression of someone who’s played a role and mugged for the camera for so long – and from such an early age – that she’s drawing from that rather than real life, a role based on a role based on a role; a kid whose life was turned into a brand, and found the brand was all there was left.

Stuart McGurk