If only The Last Song were Cyrus’ last movie
One should really review a film on its own merits, and not as an adaptation of the best-selling book it derives from, or the remake of a classic movie we loved as kids.
So while it’s hard not to approach the new Miley Cyrus flick, and its story of a teenager’s renewed relationship with her father, with thought to her alter-ego Hannah Montana, or indeed comparisons with the real-life relationship between Cyrus and her music star dad, coming to it fresh paid off.
In The Last Song, Cyrus (now 17, all pouty lips and dark tresses à la Kristen Twilight Stewart) plays rebellious teenager Veronica “Ronnie” Miller, sent from the big smoke to a seaside town to spend the summer with her estranged father (played with typically good-natured ease by Greg Kinnear). With her cute but wise little brother Jonah as a foil, Ronnie follows the standard grumpy teen trajectory of rebelling and falling in with bad company, before being wooed by the local cool kid, Will, a charming but improbable combination of Tolstoy-spouting, volleyball-playing, aquarium-volunteering, mechanic (played by Aussie newcomer Liam Hemsworth). It is a tribute to Hemsworth that he manages to defuse Ronnie’s clichéd prickliness and make their scenes together truthful and engaging.
Director Julie Anne Robinson comes fresh from a career in television, but has reliable material in the shape of Nicholas The Notebook Sparks’ screenplay. As with that huge hit (which, despite popular opinion, I loathed), The Last Song is totally formulaic and draws as much on caricatures of bigoted parents and rebellious teens as it does the undeniable charisma of its young lead actors. The story, though predictable, is however reasonably well-handled so you forgive the lack of intrigue, and the performances are largely engaging. By the final reel you may know what’s coming but, even so, you’re pleased when it does.