Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) has a lot to be thankful for in life. She’s talented, has a supportive family, and just met the love of her life. But, a devastating car accident changes her life forever! If I Stay, explores what happens when Mia has an out-of-body experience and observes how loss and grief affects those around her. In a 24 hour period she needs to make the epic decision, should she stay in this world or leave?
If I Stay is based on the book of the same name by Gayle Forman. I was not familiar with the book but this interpretation is intriguing. It was interesting to see how the script weaves Mia’s past to the present where she struggles with staying with her boyfriend Adam (Jaime Blackley), friends and grandparents or let go to be with the family she lost. Music plays an important role in the film as both Mia and Adam are musicians. She is passionate for classical channelled through her gifted cello performance. He’s an upcoming rockstar. Their musical tastes couldn’t be any more different but their passion for music unites them.
I feel If I Stay can be appreciated by all ages but definitely fits the teen genre. I grew up watching John Hughe’s films, who I feel is the master at putting together a cast of the hottest teen stars, relatable scripts and the soundtracks were fantastic. If I Stay has these elements, especially the music portion but does not have the impact of a Hughes film. I really wanted to love this film but I just didn’t. I never cried (and believe me I’m a crier). I was distracted by something. Maybe it was Mia’s lack of emotion. Maybe it was her running around the hospital barefoot hovering over everyone. Sure, she’s in shock and we mostly see her outer body self but even in flashbacks, she just didn’t show much emotion. I wanted her to cry more, to scream more…
Jamie Blackey is handsome, has nice acting chops but he didn’t seem to fit the “bad boy, my parents left me and I’m a scarred rocker” role. The actors are undeniably talented and were able to illustrate the chemistry between Mia and Adam. They were fun together and romantic but Adam seemed to love Mia more. Their relationship did draw me into the story but there was something off about the pair. I wanted more from the script and the acting. Who knows, maybe the 16 year old me would have felt different for the film or maybe I’ve watched too many movies by romance-drama novelist Nicholas Sparks.
Overall, it’s a nice movie and get’s you to think about how fragile life is. The ending does leave room for conversation between friends and adults with older children. However I was disappointed with the “cliff hanger” ending. I get it, there is a sequel but I felt that I invested a lot of time, cheering for the characters in this film and I was let down.
Rated PG-13 for for thematic elements and some sexual material.