The Last Song
Time Out New York Project: Issue #757, April 1–7, 2010
Dir. Julie Anne Robinson. 2010. PG. 108mins. Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Liam Hemsworth.
Ronnie Miller (Cyrus) has Georgia on her mind. That’s because this teen delinquent and former piano prodigy (she played Carnegie Hall when she was seven!) has been sent there for the summer to stay with her estranged composer father (Kinnear). While her annoying younger brother helps Dad build a stained-glass window for a burned-out church, dour Ronnie fends off a ravenous raccoon, brushes up on her Tolstoy and runs afoul of the local lasses who peg her as a city slut gone country. Then volleyball-player–car-mechanic–aquarium-volunteer Will Blakelee (Hemsworth) — the washboard-abs Ken to Ronnie’s skimpy-shorts Barbie — enters the picture. They meet cute over a spilled milkshake, and it isn’t long before they’re doing underwater canoodling, staring longingly at the horizon and making eternal declarations of love.
Director Julie Anne Robinson does the best she can with what she has, coaxing competent performances from the two leads (and a particularly fine one from a world-weary Kinnear) and adding so many soothing, widescreen pillow shots that it feels like you’re swimming through a sea of down with the Snuggle bear. But this is a Nicholas Sparks joint — the master of mush coadapted his own novel — so eventually there has to be a five-car pileup of melodramatic contrivances: an unfinished song, unsolved arson, cancer, class warfare and newly birthed sea turtles as an inspirational metaphor! Maybe Douglas Sirk could have made something profound out of the pseudo-ennobling horsepucky. As is, The Last Song is what the crinkle-nosed Southern belle in all of us would resoundingly deem “Trash! Trash! Trash!”—Keith Uhlich