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Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
08.21.2014
5 10

PLOT: Mia Hall (Chloe Moretz) finds herself in limbo between life and death following a deadly car accident. After learning that her parents and younger brother may not have survived the crash, Mia finds herself willing to give up fighting for her life, until her estranged boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley) pays her a visit. Is his love enough to convince her life is still worth living?

REVIEW: If you were to judge teens by the two most recent big teen movies, this and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, you’d get the impression that they’re awfully concerned with their own mortality. Like FAULT, IF I STAY is a teenaged tale of love and death, with Moretz playing another one of those idealized teens that are so pure and good that you just know they’re going to be taken to the brink of death and (naturally) rise to the occasion.

While I was quite taken by THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, mainly due to the chemistry between stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, I can’t say the same for IF I STAY. These teen movies are really only worth watching if you can invest in the kids, and while there was something extremely romantic about two terminally-ill kids taking solace in each other’s arms, IF I STAY is a much more conventional teen romance.

Chloe Moretz is one of the best young actresses out there, but the sparks don’t fly between her and Blackley’s soulful indie rocker, Adam. Maybe you can blame the writing, but together they just seem like another high school couple who are devoted to each other but not so much that you think they’ll be together forever. The makers of IF I STAY want you to think they’re soul mates, but with Mia’s character bound for Julliard and Adam finding success on the road, no one could possibly bet on them ever staying together, car accident or not. It doesn’t help that the relationship feels awfully twee, with wannabe soul-stirring lines like “the you you are now is the same you I was in love with yesterday and the same you I’ll be in love with tomorrow.” That’s an awful lot of you’s. Clearly this is not a film for the cynical.

However, I have to give IF I STAY this: while I didn’t give a hoot about Mia and Adam, I was totally invested in her relationship with her punk-rock parents, played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard. While they’re without a doubt idealized, from their understanding chats and musical pot-luck dinners, you can’t help but like them, and the fact that Mia may wake up without them in her life is the part of IF I STAY that truly tugs at the heartstrings. Old pro Stacy Keach also has a few really nice moments as Mia’s beloved Grandpa, who spies on her with pride as she nails her Julliard audition, and has a heartbreaking moment at her bedside where he confesses that Leonard – playing his son – was a better father than he ever was. Moments like this have genuine emotion; although one can’t help but think the tween audience will just be waiting for dreamy Adam to show up again.

Of course, this review should be taken with a grain of salt. As a thirty-two year-old guy, I’m clearly not the target audience for IF I STAY. But, if you found yourself moved by THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, I can tell you this is nowhere near the film that was, and just another run-of-the-mill teen weepie. But, for what it is, it’s not awful and I suppose there’s an audience out there for it who’ll likely adore it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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