Thursday, August 21, 2014

If I Stay
Releases August 22nd, 2014
1 hr 46 mins
Rated PG-13
Drama, Suspense/Thriller


Director: R. J. Cutler

Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia Hall
Mireille Enos as Kat Hall
Joshua Leonard as Denny Hall
Stacy Keach as Grandpa
Lauren Lee Smith as Willow
Liana Liberato as Kim Schein
Jamie Blackley as Adam Wilde
Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez
Aliyah O'Brien as EMT
Jakob Davies as Teddy Hall

Review by Stephen M.

If I Stay is the latest sappy romantic tear jerker based on a novel of the same name by Gayle Forman.  The marketing gurus at Warner Bros would have you believing that it's a drama along the lines of Heaven is For Real, but rather take pages from Fault in Our Stars more than the latter.  But to say they're exactly the same would be an injustice to both.  Despite sharing young romances going through ups and downs and deaths, the roads they take are vastly different.

The movie starts off quite confusingly as they switch quite frequently between past and present and at different points in the past that is not always linear.  Most importantly, is that we get the sense of Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her closeness with her family who are the polar opposites of her musically and personality-wise.  This, as she points out, can change in an instant as she narrates that ill-fated day of the car crash.  Her out of body experience throughout the film takes us not only on a journey of her present state along with her family but also of her past relationships and experience with them, especially the guy she fell in love with but is separated from, Adam (Jamie Blackley).

What I enjoyed about the film is the family dynamic of the Halls, well played by Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos as her mother, Kat Hall, and Joshua Leonard as her father, Denny Hall.  Among the themes of the movie is love and sacrifice and as a father, the scenes between Chloë and Joshua are things that I can relate to despite the age differences between my daughter and Chloë.  Among my favorite scenes include what Mia describes as her happiest moment in her life as well as when Mia is intimate with Adam, describing the experience as playing music.  Among the things I don't like about the film is the countless running around that Chloë's character has to do despite being a spirit or spirit-like.  In the entire movie, we do not once see her phrase through objects or such but rather in certain scenes, her character actually waits for someone to open the door.

Overall, I would recommend this film even though these type of films are difficult for me to watch.  As with Fault in Our Stars, seeing a young person suffer, even though fictional, brings back memories of my dear friend and what she went through.  Despite having more touching and realistic moments in If I Stay, I enjoyed the characters more in Fault in Our Stars more than If I Stay.  Chloë Grace Moretz continues to grow as an actress, but her chemistry with costar Jamie Blackley seemed forced at times.  Their lips interlocking frequently so as to distract us from having to hear repetitive unoriginal dialogue between the two.


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