FILM REVIEW: If I Stay

If I Stay (R. J. Cutler, 2014)

Jamie Blackley & Chloë Grace Moretz doing that teen thang ya do
Jamie Blackley & Chloë Grace Moretz doing that teen thang

Does anyone else find it disconcerting how obsessed teenagers are with tragic romances? When I was a teen I was into Sweet Valley High, The Olsen Twins, and 10 Things I Hate About You. I had a crush on Robbie from Home and Away who was pretty much the most innocent, loveliest boy of all time – although there was that one time he stepped on a syringe – panic alert! (Relax, he was fine). These days teenagers seem so into DEATH. They actually WANT Twilight’s pale Edward Cullen to suck their blood because it would be omigod-so-totes-hot. They want a relationship like Gus and Hazel’s in The Fault of Our Stars, and the fact that they’re both dying from cancer only makes it all the more beautiful. And now they’re obsessing over If I Stay in which the protagonist’s whole family dies (not really a spoiler because it’s in the trailer) but oh well who cares, because it’s all about her high school love which is totes more important, bitches. Ummm, yeah. This is slightly concerning. I made such a better choice going for Robbie, FYI. We had a very happy life together (in my dreams anyway).

Chloë Grace Moretz
Chloë Grace Moretz

If I Stay is the latest young adult book-to-film adaptation, and the young’uns are going cray cray for it. Gayle Forman’s story follows seventeen year old Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is involved in a car crash with her family and ends up in a coma. She has an out of body experience and has to decide WILL SHE STAY? OH MY GOD WILL SHE? I COULDN’T POSSIBLY GUESS. The film switches between past and present and we see the course of her relationship with emerging rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley). Their relationship is rocky as they are both musicians – she is a cellist auditioning for Juilliard – and they fear inevitable separation. From the very beginning the dialogue is mega-cringe, and it only gets worse. The scene where Mia makes music analogies during foreplay just about breaks the cringe-o-meter – something about hitting her G-string. Sexy times. Of course adolescents eat this shit up for breakfast so it will be a sure-fire success, and it is quite amazing. Amazingly LAME.

Chloë Grace Moretz & Jamie Blackley
Chloë Grace Moretz & Jamie Blackley

I have to admit – I did get a bit teary in parts. The scene where Mia’s mum comforts her and gives her excellent love advice is so sad when you know she’s not going to be around for long. It helped that her parents were both played by decent actors (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) and Stacy Keach as Mia’s grandfather 100% stole the show. THAT GUY! He is amazing. That was all way more emotional than Adam’s final realisation that now that his girlfriend is possibly dying, he’ll be a better boyfriend. It got a bit ‘Your Eyes’ from Rent at the end, but obviously not as good because RENT. D’uh. You want tragedy done well, go see that beauty.

Mireille Enos, Chloë Grace Moretz & Joshua Leonard
Mireille Enos, Chloë Grace Moretz & Joshua Leonard

I’m torn about Chloë Grace Moretz. I thought she was meant to be a talented young actress (and I loved Hugo so much) but she was a bit off here. Maybe it was the bad wig – her hair looked like it was out of a Pantene commercial except that they’d forgotten to fix up the back. It just looked ridiculous. She was beautiful to watch at times, but her performance wasn’t wonderful as a whole. The director also made a slightly odd decision to superimpose her head on a cellist’s body in the musical scenes – it wasn’t completely obvious but it looked a little odd. I suppose there wasn’t a better option? Jamie Blackley as Adam was better, but not by much. His best scene was probably his ‘Your Eyes’ attempt and he had a decent voice, but he’s no Adam Pascal. LET ME MAKE THAT VERY CLEAR!

Jamie Blackley, Chloë Grace Moretz, & Liana Liberato
Jamie Blackley, Chloë Grace Moretz, & Liana Liberato

Despite all its lameness, I can’t deny that If I Stay is a heart-wrencher, although I may have been affected for different reasons than the teen audiences. I suppose I remember that ‘teen-love-is-everything’ attitude though, and maybe if all these depressing stories had been around when I was younger, I would have eaten them all up too. If I Stay knows its audience, and it caters for them. It’s only a matter of time before the next teen trag-rom comes around – let’s just hope the dialogue improves, especially during foreplay.

3 stars

Woah, that's deep man

Woah, that’s deep man

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