Good looks, a younger brother who adores him, smarts, and an acceptance to Ivy League school Stanford. That seems to equal the life of a young man that many of us would be envious of. You have to remember that looks can be deceiving.
Charlie St. Cloud (played by Zac Efron) is going to leave at the end of the summer to start at Stanford which doesn't make his brother Sam (played by Charlie Tahan) very happy. Charlie and Sam are close. With their father having left when they were younger and Charlie now leaving for school Sam feels like he is going to be all alone. In order to reassure his brother that he is still important to him, Charlie promises to practice baseball with Sam every day before he leaves.
One day while driving together to a friend's house Charlie and Sam are hit by another car. Charlie is lucky and is revived by a paramedic (played by Ray Liotta) but his brother is not so lucky and dies.
Charlie is wracked with survivor's guilt. So much so that he keeps up his promise to his brother and goes to baseball practice every day. He does not seem all that surprised when Sam shows up.
It is five years later and Charlie never went to Stanford. He works in the local graveyard and still practices baseball everyday. Though still young, Charlie has no social life to speak of and even lives at the graveyard. He only communicates with his dead brother. Charlie's life is altered when Tess (played by Amanda Crew), a young woman who plans to sail around the world, appears in it.
Just from this short synopsis you can tell that this is a purposeful tear jerker of a film. It really serves no other purpose than to make you cry. It does try to get across the message of dealing with a tragedy and then moving on with your life. That is really secondary though.
The character of Charlie St. Cloud is really the focal point of the film and yet as a character he doesn't engage the viewer all that much. He is a little too self-involved for you to feel too sorry for him. I often while watching wanted to give him a kick in the ass and tell him to make more of the second chance he had been given. Zac Efron really tries to do something with the script he has been given but there really isn't that much to work with. To say that this is a lightweight film is an understatement.
Yes, many of us believe that things happen for a reason and that even tragedies can have good things come out of them. The film reinforces that. It is sincere and does try hard to be more than superficial but it ends up failing. For the most part it is still a charming watch due to its handsome lead man with his piercing blue eyes.