Charlie St. Cloud made its appearance in 2010. The story follows Charlie (Zac Efron) who is hands down the best sailor in his class. His future is set: Stanford with a sailing scholarship and then one day sail the world. A sad turn of events leaves Charlie fighting to keep a promise while he struggles to understand what it means to live. This movie is about accepting your past, taking chances, and charging into your future.
*warning, may contain spoilers*
The movie is based off of the book, “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud”, by Ben Sherwood. However, the movie is set a few years later in the book. In the movie Charlie is graduating high school and is set to head off to Stanford at summer’s end, but in the book he’s a fifteen year old boy.
Charlie is depicted as the all around level headed boy. He handles his responsibilities, keeps good friends, is nice to his mom, and takes care of his little brother. Charlie makes a promise to his brother, Sam, to practice baseball with him.
Sam is and Charlie are both killed in a car accident, but only Charlie returns to the living. From his experience on the other side of life he can now see and talk to the dead. Sam hasn’t moved on and Charlie drops everything in his life to stay in their small sea side town and keep the promise he made to his younger brother.
You can’t put your life on hold, Charlie. It doesn’t wait for you.
Sure enough, his mother’s words are proven true. His friends go off to war, or college and eventually start their lives whereas Charlie remains the same. Working at the graveyard where his little brother was buried, playing catch with someone only he can see.
There are many scenes in the movie that show Charlie with his younger, dead, brother. Charlie seems satisfied and happy to live his life with a promise, a memory, but in other scenes you can see just how alone Charlie truly is, even if he doesn’t always see it, he can feel the emptiness around him.
Throughout the story Charlie slowly learns what it means to let go and to live your life. He meets a girl, Tess, he knew in high school. With an accident of her own she teaches him that it’s okay to want more, to go after your dreams, and to let go of the past.
Trust your heart, if the seas catch fire. Live by love though the stars walk backward.
Charlie discovers his purpose, the reason he was brought back from the dead. He must understand Tess’s condition and choose to help or or keep his promise to Sam. It’s a struggle that may have had to go through. How do you let go of a lost loved one, a regret, a memory, a what if, and learn to live your life again? How do you know when holding onto your past has run it’s course? How do you know it’s alright to move forward in life.
For Charlie it wasn’t easy. Five years he kept his promise to his little brother, but something more important… more relevant forced his hand. Charlie knew it was time to let go of Sam because if he didn’t he would be facing the same situation all over again, but with another. This time he had the power to change the outcome and Charlie chose to take his chance and continue the rest of his life.
In a way Charlie was still able to keep Sam with him. He wold never forget his little brother and in letting go of his past he was able to find a life, love, and sail the world. Charlie’s dreams eventually came true for him, but only because he let the past be the past and went after what he wanted the most.
Charlie St. Cloud has taught me how to accept your past and look forward to your future.