I won’t rehash the premise of ‘If I Stay‘ too much, because surely anyone interested in this movie has an idea of what it’s about already. But for those who truly have no clue: It’s about a girl named Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is in a horrific car accident with her mother, father, and little brother. While in a coma she must decide if she wants to fight for her life and stay—even though her parents died in the crash, leaving Mia an orphan—or if she wants to let go. Throughout the story she reflects back on her life’s memories with her family and her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley), which ultimately helps her make her final decision.
The movie is based on the young adult novel of the same title written by Gayle Forman.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way: Let’s delve into the movie review!
I have never, ever been so confused about whether I liked a movie or not.
Here’s the thing: I liked the ‘If I Stay‘ book better than I liked John Green‘s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ book. But I liked the ‘TFiOS‘ movie more than the ‘If I Stay‘ movie. Because I loved the ‘If I Stay‘ book so much I had fairly high hopes for the film. I had built up this image in my head of how it would play out, and some scenes in the movie were so perfect, almost palpable, while others took a nose dive and skidded along before hitting a wall. Sometimes it felt like director R.J. Cutler was just trying to fill space to make the movie longer. Granted, the book is short. There isn’t a ton of organic material to work with.
Some parts of the ‘If I Stay‘ movie felt dry and left me thinking, That made the final cut? How? And some of the secondary actors were just plain awkward. But there is no questioning Chloë Grace Moretz‘s obvious talent and on-screen charm. She can go from 0-100 in a millisecond. Her chemistry with Jamie Blackley was amazing, too. Speaking of Jamie, I have nothing bad to say about his performance. He did great with the script he was given. Stacy Keach (who plays Mia’s grandfather) had a short but a beautifully moving part in this film. His performance was brilliant and nearly had me in tears.
You know what else I can’t fault? The visuals. The fall scenes were breathtaking; the New Years party was cozy; the spring was flowery. Halloween was, well . . . Halloween-y. I also loved the beautiful rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” that was played around a bonfire as Mia recalled her best day ever. It was hands down my favorite scene in the movie. (All the music in this movie was great, actually!) Mia’s family gatherings definitely left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
Another thing I liked about the ‘If I Stay‘ movie was that they kept the relationship between Mia and Adam real. There weren’t any grossly unrealistic moments between them. In fact, I very much related to Mia in this aspect. The scenes between her and Adam took me back to my teens and how relationships could be so complicated back then. (Your teens really are an inconvenient time to fall in love.)
The ending, however, fell flat. I know they were opening it up for a potential sequel (could ‘Where She Went‘ get a movie deal?), but they could have done more with that. It reminded me of the final scene in Breaking Dawn part 1. I don’t love it when a movie builds you up, builds you up, builds you up, and then leaves you with something mediocre and predictable.
If you can get past a few slow and clunky scenes, or the odd bland dialogue, then I think you’ll be able to really enjoy this film. It does have charm, and it will tug at your heart strings at times. There is even some comical relief sprinkled throughout it. This review is neutral—I neither loved the ‘If I Stay‘ movie, nor hated it. Just like Mia, I can’t decide.