If I Stay
Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes
17 year old cello prodigy Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) has always lived her life with a very narrow focus. Her family, her friend Kim (Liana Liberato) and her music all fit perfectly into her very ordered life. Things start to get complicated when she catches the eye of Adam (Jamie Blackley) who’s life as the lead singer of a local rock band is decidedly more messy than Mia’s. In this case opposites attract and Mia and Adam fall for each other hard and fast while they find balance in each other. Unfortunately the future is looming and with Adam’s band starting to find success out on tour and Mia’s pending audition for Juilliard, it feels like fate is pulling them in different directions. These seemingly petty concerns fall away when Mia and her family are in a devastating car accident. As Mia’s body clings to life in a coma, her spirit is outside of her body watching as the doctors inform her grandparents that she is the only survivor of the wreck. Overwhelmed by all she has lost Mia must decide if she has anything left to live for.
If I Stay will probably be compared to The Fault In Our Stars, but I think each film has very different strengths. I love Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard as Mia’s parents. The scenes with the family together have such a comfortable warmth that at times you wish they were your family and this makes their loss even more affecting. Blackley plays Adam with a vulnerability that is sometimes lacking in male leads in these types of movie. He allows you to feel how much Adam needs Mia to give him the sense of home and safety that he hasn’t ever known. I would also like to give special mention to the fantastically moving work that Stacy Keach does in his few scenes as Mia’s grandfather. His scene at the end of the film put tears in my eyes.
Chloe Grace Moretz is one of my favorite young actresses, and while I thought she was good in this, I think she is such a dynamic and powerful presence on screen that I think Mia is too beige of a character for her to play. When you see Mia playing the cello full of passion and confidence is where Moretz shines, but otherwise I think a lot of less interesting actresses could have done the same work as Mia. Moretz needs to seek out projects that continue to push and stretch her, because I think she is capable of the same kind of work that Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence are doing. As a grown man I think there will always be a little of a disconnect whenever I watch teenagers pledge their eternal love to each other, but If I Stay keeps the cheese to a minimum and gives us something we can feel. B