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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews If I Stay

August 29th, 2014 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

If I Stay (15)
Directed by: R.J. Cutler
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos & Jamie Blackley
Running time: 106 min

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.

Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a teenager who comes from a musical family; a highly gifted cello player herself, Mia’s father was originally in a pretty successful band when she was a youngster. Her mother was a massive fan of her father’s group (which is how they met) and even her younger brother is into classic rock. Added to this is her boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley).

Tragedy strikes Mia when her parents, brother and her are involved in an horrific car accident. Finding herself awake at the scene she surveys the carnage only to realise that her body is being attended by paramedics. As she witnesses her body being transported to hospital, Mia realises that she is having an out of body experience.

As everything she holds dear begins to fall apart as her body falls into a coma, Mia must decide if she wakes up or goes into the beyond….

If I Stay, based on the book by Gayle Forman, is basically a love story centered around music. The film’s narrative, told through flashbacks and current time, is purely focussed around Mia; a schoolgirl who has fallen in love with Adam; a boy who is a number of years older than her and who is becoming a successful musician and singer. The flashbacks deal with how Mia’s life has moved from her simple world of her family and cello music into that of Adam’s world, with bars, gigs, tours and their relationship.

Sadly the script is neither punchy nor really engaging. The audience is taken on a very simplistic journey of Mia’s love life involving Adam; here the audiences experiences very excrutiating detail of the relationship from the nervous first date, their first kiss, Mia’s jealousy of Adam loking at other women etc. It’s these moments that for most audience members, will simply put them into a coma much like the main character.

Whilst music clearly plays a part in this story, the cello solos in particular are wonderful to listen to but sadly Chloë Grace Moretz’s head looks like it was super imposed onto the musical performer’s body resulting in a “bobble head” effect at times! As for Adam and his band, their music is neither inspiring nor standing out as a character, and it feels just like another teen band (though Jamie Blackley is well into his 20s).

The coma scenes are handled very well and there are times when the audience is touched by something a family member says, however even in some of these scenes there is the typical “Be Strong” or “fight it” clichéd dialogue that has been in nearly every episode of ER.

If I Stay could have been much more than just a teenage love drama, especially as the original source novel focussed on entirely different aspects that what the filmmakers have chosen. This is perfect viewing for teenage girls looking to fill a void by “sparkly vampires”, though one best avoided by their boyfriends!

2 out of 5

I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.