Review: If I Stay
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, youd get the impression that theyre 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 theyre 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 cant 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 others 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 dont fly between her and Blackleys 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 theyll be together forever. The makers of IF I STAY want you to think theyre soul mates, but with Mias 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 doesnt 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 Ill be in love with tomorrow. Thats an awful lot of yous. Clearly this is not a film for the cynical.
However, I have to give IF I STAY this: while I didnt 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 theyre without a doubt idealized, from their understanding chats and musical pot-luck dinners, you cant 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 Mias 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 cant 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, Im 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, its not awful and I suppose theres an audience out there for it wholl likely adore it.