‘Clouds’ Review: A Farewell Through Song

Movies|‘Clouds’ Review: A Farewell Through Song

This tear-jerking biopic looks back at the life of Zach Sobiech, a teenage musician who died of a rare bone cancer in 2013.

‘Clouds’ Review: A Farewell Through Song
Fin Argus and Sabrina Carpenter in “Clouds.”Credit...Disney+
Clouds
Directed by Justin Baldoni
Drama, Music
PG-13
2h 1m

In 2012, the terminally ill 17-year-old Zach Sobiech learned he wouldn’t live through the following year. To grapple with his grief and the pallor it cast over his first serious relationship, Zach wrote a love song called “Clouds” about his girlfriend, about cancer and about letting go. The ballad went viral, inspiring a celeb-studded lip-sync video including Jason Mraz, Bryan Cranston and Sarah Silverman, plus a visit from the actor-turned-director Justin Baldoni, who flew to the Sobiech home in Minnesota to interview Zach and his family for the digital docu-series “My Last Days.”

After Zach’s death, “Clouds” hit No. 1 on the iTunes singles charts. As an encore, Baldoni has directed a folksy feature by the same name, streaming on Disney+, which presents Zach as a beatific teenager who left too soon. Played with goofball charm by Fin Argus, Zach opens the film flaunting his bald head and gyrating pelvis for the class talent show while belting “Sexy and I Know It.”

Big on hugs and scant on plot, the gentle, hazy script (by Kara Holden) is jolted by dramatic moments, like Zach bathing in the healing waters of Lourdes, France, and a seemingly self-destructive incident behind the wheel, which is quickly ushered away unresolved as if to shrug, that’s life.

“My Last Days” also inspired Baldoni’s first feature, the significantly profitable 2019 romance “Five Feet Apart” about a young couple with cystic fibrosis. The uncharitable reading is the director is aware that tragedies forge a sturdy shield against nitpicks about, say, the meandering pace. Better to be generous until it’s clear he intends a franchise.

Yet, while “Clouds” is as doe-eyed and puppyish as an acoustic serenade, Baldoni is wise to recognize that attention must be paid to Zach’s survivors, who include his parents (Neve Campbell and Tom Everett Scott); his girlfriend (Madison Iseman); and his best friend and bandmate, played by the vibrant Sabrina Carpenter, who’d hoped to eventually win over her unrequited first love.

Clouds
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Running time: 2 hours 1 minute. Watch on Disney+.

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