Film Review “If I Stay”

ifistayStarring: Chloe Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley
Directed by: R.J. Cutler
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 46 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Before you begin to think of me as an unfeeling dolt, let me say in my defense that I love a good romantic drama. I’ve been known to bawl my eyes out during certain films, among them “Ghost,” “Forrest Gump” and “Sophie’s Choice.” The only way “If I Stay” could make me cry would be if I had to watch it again.

Mia (Moretz), her little brother and their parents have decided to go for a drive. It’s a snow day…no school and what better than to bundle the family up in the car and head down the highway. Sadly, this is not a wise idea. A horrible accident ensues. Mia finds herself walking the halls of the local hospital, soon realizing that she is having an out of body experience. She watches as her friends and family deal with the horrible news and as a team of doctors operate on her. During the operation one of the nurses leans over and whispers to Mia that it will be up to her. Her will is what will determine if she lives or dies. And, I would hope, the quality of the medical attention she is receiving.
A film that probably read better as a book, “If I Stay” attempts to stuff too many events into a short time period. The story is told via flashbacks, so we get glimpses into Mia’s life interspliced with shots of her and her family in the hospital. We get to witness her meeting hot schoolmate Adam (Blackley), a musician whose anger at the way life has treated him is channeled through his music. Mia also loves music. Classical music. She can sit down and knock out a tune on a cello like no one you’ve ever heard before. The two begin dating, using music as a common ground to build a relationship on. Mia’s dad had been part of a punk rock band called Nasty Bruises, so he readily approves of Adam. Of course, when not discussing music the two lovebirds quibble with each other. But then they make up. Then they quibble. Again, they make up. Do you see a pattern here?

What kills this film is the script. First off, the dialogue is horrible (a pregnant women, spying a container of Chinese food, quips “I’m having dim sum for a twosome!” Ha ha! There is even a snippet of dialogue which could have been taken, almost verbatim, from the film “Carrie.” We later learn that Mia has an audition in San Francisco (the film is based in Portland, Oregon) and is driven down by her grandfather (Stacey Keach). Apparently he drives her home also, which means he must have had a spaceship since it’s an almost eleven hour drive between the two cities. Realism goes out the door when Mia is shown studying and listening to classical music through headphones. Later she takes them off and in a few minutes she is removing the album she was listening to from a 1970s style turntable. But what really angered me about this film was a scene when Adam is stopped by the nurses from visiting Mia in the Intensive Care Unit, being told it’s only for immediate family members. He is so persistent in his attempts that eventually he is led away by three security guards. However, 20 mins later half of the cast, including people we haven’t even been introduced to yet (remember…flashbacks) start filing into Mia’s room. Did the ICU Nazi go home?

The cast does its best with what it has to work with. Adam and the band begin to gain momentum, even though, in the four different concert shots, they apparently only know one song. But hey, that’s show-biz. I’d like to tell you how the film ends, but I won’t for two reasons:

  1. 1. It wouldn’t be right for me to ruin the ending.
  2. If you still want to see this film after you’ve read this, then you might as well see the whole thing. If “I” had to “STAY” until the end then so do you.

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One Reply to “Film Review “If I Stay””

  1. You couldn’t be more wrong. You obviously are not considering the target audience. The acting was great and the music was fabulous. The story offered so much feeling and defiantly made me cry. Its a great story about young love and the struggle of loss.

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