Monday, February 23, 2015

Movie Review - If I Stay

If I Stay (2014)
Starring Chloë Grace Moritz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Jakob Davies, and Stacy Keach
Directed by R.J. Cutler

It's such a shame that If I Stay wallows in the typical cinematic tropes of standard teenage romances because at the crux of the film is a rather lovely and somewhat emotionally resonant contemplation of the afterlife.  On a snowy day, Mia (Chloë Grace Mortiz), her mother (Mireille Enos), father (Joshua Leonard), and brother (Jakob Davies) are all involved in a horrific car accident.  Mia immediately finds herself having an out-of-body experience watching herself being whisked off to the hospital only to find upon her arrival that her parents and brother are in similarly dire straits as well.

Unfortunately, while the aforementioned aspect of the film works surprisingly well providing more than one touching moment, the bulk of If I Stay is told in flashback with Mia recalling her final year of high school when she, a talented cellist, falls for Adam (Jamie Blackley), the guitarist of a punk band.  Her parents -- former rock band performers and groupies themselves -- find the pairing ideal, but Mia questions whether her burgeoning love is harming her chances of getting into a great music college.  This relationship is nothing short of typical, filled with the corniest of dialog, and many scenes of the teenaged actors pining doe-eyed at one another only to get flustered when one or the other questions their commitment to the romantic affiliation.

Chloë Moretz confounds me a bit here as I found her unbearable to watch in those relationship moments, but moderately intriguing in some of the celestial out-of-body scenes.  Jamie Blackley fares a little better, but his character is so damn stereotypical that I found myself not caring for him in the slightest.  While Mireille Enos makes out the best as Mia's mom, she's not given a whole lot to do which is unfortunate as a movie about her character's relationship with her husband would've made a better film.

The potential was here for something positive and while I can't help but give If I Stay a little credit for its final act which stands out a bit from typical teenage fare (this was aiming for a "D" rating until the film's final twenty minutes), it ultimately sinks itself with a horribly disappointing been there-done that teen romance angle.

The RyMickey Rating: C-

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