The Last Song

The Last Song

2010, PG, 108 min. Directed by Julie Anne Robinson. Starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Liam Hemsworth, Bobby Coleman, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Nick Lashaway, Carly Chaikin.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 2, 2010

Cyrus waves goodbye to her Hannah Montana tween-star identity with The Last Song, the latest Nicholas Sparks-penned romance to be made into a movie. (In fact, it’s already the second Sparks film this year, with February’s Dear John having been the first.) Though she plays a troubled music prodigy in The Last Song, Cyrus is not heard singing in the movie until, literally, the final song plays over the closing credits. In this movie, the teen performer wants to put her acting on display, and while the movie will probably rake in big bucks from her built-in fan base (and their moms), the decision to showcase her dramatic chops may not have been in Cyrus’ best long-term interest. Marked by her bubbly and assertive presence, smiley Miley is not the best choice to play The Last Song’s rebellious and conflicted Ronnie. No doubt hoping that her appearance in this Sparks melodrama would do for her career what it did for a young singer named Mandy Moore in 2002’s A Walk to Remember, Cyrus unfortunately proves to be a bad fit for the form. The expression of dramatic complexity and nuance does not appear to be a part of Cyrus’ vocabulary (and, to be fair, are beyond the ken of most teenagers). As Ronnie Miller, Cyrus portrays a high school graduate and aforementioned piano prodigy, who goes with her little brother (Coleman) to stay for the summer with their divorced father, Steve (Kinnear), at his beachfront Georgia home. Ronnie is a handful, as they say. Ronnie quit playing piano when her parents divorced, though that impediment hasn’t gotten in the way of her being accepted into Juilliard, sans audition. Ronnie also has had a scrape with the law over a shoplifting incident. She arrives for her beach holiday sullen and aloof and quickly earns the enmity of some of the town’s girls when she catches the eye of beach-volleyball hunk Will (Hemsworth). Will also turns out to be a volunteer with the local aquarium’s wildlife-rescue team and comes to Ronnie’s aid when she tries to protect a nest of turtle eggs from raccoons. There are big kisses, a trying-on-dresses montage, the revelation of the dark cloud in Will’s past, and then, bam, somebody coughs. This being a Sparks melodrama, we know that chest congestion instantly marks a character for inevitable death. The narrative points the film hits are completely predictable, and none are developed with anything but passing interest. Veteran TV director and first-time film director Robinson moves the story forward competently, and Kinnear pleasantly modulates his performance from its usual high-octane showcase into something more subdued and genuinely supportive. The title, The Last Song, may be wishful thinking for some, but the best they can probably hope for is the close of the era of Hannah Montana movies.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Julie Anne Robinson Films
One for the Money
Heigl plays bounty hunter Stephanie Plum in this adaptation of the first book in Janet Evanovich's bestselling crime series.

Kimberley Jones, Feb. 3, 2012

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
Love means never having to flip to the B side

March 16, 2024

SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
A Hollywood garden party unearths certain truths

March 12, 2024


The Last Song, Julie Anne Robinson, Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Liam Hemsworth, Bobby Coleman, Hallock Beals, Kelly Preston, Nick Lashaway, Carly Chaikin

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle