If I Stay (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Stacy Keach, Gabrielle Rose, Jakob Davies, Ali Milner, Aisha Hinds.
Written by Shauna Cross, based on the novel by Gayle Forman.
Directed by R.J. Cutler.
Alright, already. Enough with the teen drama. Having experienced the utter sadness of lives cut short by tragedy in The Fault In Our Stars this summer, we get another heartbreaking movie formulated to produce bucket of adolescent tears in If I Stay.
Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the beautiful and talented Mia; a Portland-area high school student and cello player who’s auditioned for Julliard. On the day she’s supposed to find out if she’s been accepted, she and her family are involved in a brutal car crash.
Mia’s entire family dies in the crash, and she ends up in a coma. In her trance state, Mia roams through the hospital, reminiscing about her life, family and especially her lover Adam (Jamie Blackley), a lead guitarist front man for a rock bond on the verge of stardom. Mia’s memories include wonderful moments with her mother (Mireille Enos), father (Joshua Leonard) and little brother Teddy (Jakob Davies). Most of her flashbacks surround the circumstances of meeting and falling in love with Adam. As she wanders the hallways of the hospital, Mia must decide if it’s worth the trouble to come back to life.
If I Stay has a few moments that might get people over the age of 19 choked up, but not many. The entire premise seems simple, and I watched the movie wondering what the debate was all about. You either want to live – or you don’t – and it doesn’t seem that complicated. I’m sure life and death are much more complex for teenage girls, but then again – what isn’t?
Chloë Grace Moretz does a fine job in one of her first (almost) grown up roles, but the only performances of note go to Enos as Mia’s mom and Stacy Keach as her grandpa. There’s also a few sex scenes, cleverly lighted to keep If I Stay PG-13.
The flashback device used to keep the disjointed story moving along seems to make If I Stay seem longer than its 106-minute running time. Trying to figure out where Mia and Adam are in their relationship proves just as tedious during those flashbacks.
I suppose If I Stay will serve as an existential harbinger for teen girls. As for the rest of us, I don’t think the Kleenex folks are going to run out of tissue any time soon.
Want to know what Jenniffer Wardell thinks about If I Stay? Read her review here.