Director: R.J. Cutler
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Liana Liberato, Lauren Lee Smith, Aliyah O'Brien, Joshua Leonard, Chelah Horsdal, Aisha Hinds, Stacy Keach, Jakob Davies
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Rating: PG13 (Scene of Intimacy)
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: http://ifistaymovie.com
Opening Day: 4 September 2014
Synopsis: Mia Hall (Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.
Call this reviewer a Scrooge, but he was hardly moved by this romantic drama based on the novel of the same name by Gayle Forman. Now, this 33 year old male writer doesn’t read a lot, so he may not be aware of the literary magic that words can conjure, or how touching a story about a dying teenage girl travelling to back and forth in time between her recollections can be. Hence he is asking readers to pardon him if his review of this R J Cutler directed movie seems hard hearted and indifferent.
This is the story of Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz), a shy teenage cellist whose parents (Joshua Leonard and Mireille Enos) were rockers and rollers before they settled down to become responsible parents. About 10 minutes into the film, the family is in a car accident that leaves Mia in a coma and the other three dead or dying. Now having an out of body experience and wandering the hospital as a spirit like character, Mia reflects on her life thus far and debates whether to fight for survival or go toward the light (hence the title “If I Stay”, get it?).
Then we get flashbacks to Mia’s recent past, particularly her storybook romance with Adam (Jamie Blackley), the dreamiest boy in school, who sought her out and told her she’s beautiful, blah, blah, blah. Basically you just need to know Adam is the perfect boyfriend fond of making grand romantic gestures, and Mia is the perfect girlfriend destined to spend eternity with him (the guy’s a rocker whose band is rising fast, the girl’s a cellist who is making her way into the prestigious Julliard). Everything’s looking up – until the terrible car accident.
There’s a part of this mean columnist who wants to see Mia walk towards the light, but he knows it’s not going to happen. How else can viewers find hope in this cold hearted and cruel world? How can audiences bear to see Adam and Mia separated forever? Sure there was some tension based on petty and dumb teenage jealousies, but you know it will be resolved in a jiffy so the characters can appreciate each other better. That said, you probably know how this 107 minute film is going to end.
Moretz has played a wider variety of characters, and she plays them well. She’s only 17, but her ability to play both someone girlish and someone wise beyond her years can be seen from her solid filmography. Be it the Kick Ass franchise, Let Me In or Carrie, you have to acknowledge that the young actress does what she’s supposed to do well. It is no different in her latest work. Although it’s a weepy young adult flick about a teenage girl trapped in an ethereal realm but must soon choose between life and death, Moretz’s screen presence is undeniable. She has easy chemistry wit her co stars, and it is evident she gave her all to portray Mia.
However, this is a melodrama through and through. While it may go down well with a certain group of viewers, those with a lack of patience and ability to appreciate emotionally manipulative plots may want to sit this one out.
(Chloe Grace Moretz is great as usual, but the melodramatic weepie may not be everyone’s cup of tea)
Review by John Li