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If I Stay
Genre Drama

If I Stay is a drama and adaptation of Gayle Forman's novel about Mia, a young cellist, and her life, love and family experiences before a car accident puts her in a coma. The plot line for this drama is quite cliched and you can imagine the film tripping into tearjerker territory, however a fantasy twist enabling Mia to wander the Overlook Hospital (a tip of the hat to The Shining) like a ghost, gives If I Stay an ethereal quality.

The film stars Chloe Grace Moretz, an actress whose exquisite features and melancholic disposition make her quite perfect for the role of Mia. She is permanently in the moment, enabling us to live vicariously through her performance. While the film is aimed at young adults, the mature theme about mortality, Moretz's elemental performance and some nostalgic memory sequences keep everyone invested.

The narrative structure takes a little getting used to, moving back-and-forth between the buildup to and aftermath of the accident. We are kept on our toes and while it doesn't take long to adjust to the switch, it would have been interesting to see the film unfold from her comatose state.

Mia's high school romance with Adam forms the core relationship of If I Stay. The two musicians make an interesting contrast, with Mia being a cellist and Adam being the guitarist and front man of a local band. This dynamic is echoed by Mia's parents, who seem to have started in a similar fashion.

Jamie Blackley does a fine job supporting Moretz as Adam, the suave and unexpectedly deep rock star in the making. There are hints of The Wedding Singer in the way the two relate, and while the chemistry may not be as potent as that between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, it's still convincing, sweet and pure of heart.

Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard play Mia's rock 'n' roll parents, who add much heart and warmth in their old school approach to life. Enos is wonderfully cast, bringing some tame rebellion as a mother who wants the best for our child yet feels compelled to break the rules on her behalf. Leonard is equally convincing, as the self-professed cool Dad, adding some much-needed humour to the emotional drama.

Veteran actor, Stacey Keach, deserves special mention as Gramps in a short yet heartfelt supporting performance. We feel the true weight of the drama in a key role that grounds and elevates the film simultaneously.

If I Stay ranks with The Perks Of Being a Wallflower and The Music Never Stopped… in terms of the emotional gravity, subject of adolescence and execution. The film's melancholic yet heartwarming disposition is summed up by a rendition of Today by The Smashing Pumpkins, a song which Billy Corgan wrote on a day he contemplated ending it all but decided to go on a write a chart-topping hit.

Director, R. J. Cutler creates a young adult story that is both naive and mature, innocently bringing a high school romance in the style of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and setting it against the teenage angst and art house nuance of a film like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Subtle things, for instance Mia waking up like a snow angel, the handling of her out of body experience and the flood of memories, set this film apart.

The indie soundtrack may not be as soulful as Once, yet complements the visuals and spirit of the film. We're entranced by Chloe Grace Moretz, who threads every scene, and would probably be just as entertaining if she was knitting. While the story tends towards a sentimental tone, the fantasy element helps buffer the tearjerker tendencies. If I Stay is not an original film, but composes itself with a great love and purpose for its characters.

The bottom line: Moving

7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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