Rating: 3/5 Stars
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz (Mia Hall), Jamie Blackley (Adam), Mireille Enos (Kat Hall), Joshua Leonard (Denny Hall), Jakob Davies (Teddy Hall), Liana Liberato (Kim Schein), and Stacy Keach (Gramps)
Director: R.J Cutler
Synopsis: When Mia and her family had a tragic car accident in the midst of a snowy Oregon wilderness, she found herself caught between the realms of life and death. In this film, Cutler brings us into a series of melodramatic occurrences as Mia Hall watches the flashbacks of her life while she struggles to make a choice that will determine her fate in love.
As if we didn’t cry hard enough over Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars, here comes another book adaptation that would surely capture the attention of teenagers and young adults. Based from Gayle Foreman’s novel of the same title “If I Stay” which was published in 2009, well-known documentarian R.J Cutler gives us another taste of romance that is hindered by the possibility of death.
If you were given a choice between living your love with unresolved romance issues and leaving life to end pain and agony, how would you face it? This is the dilemma of Mia, a 17-year old shy high school girl and a gifted cellist who falls in love with a future rock star, Adam. While the plot seems captivating enough for specific audience demographic which has rose-tinted lenses for romantic stories, this film portrays nothing more than predictability and bland manipulation.
The film stages obvious angles of contrasts from life and death decisions to musical tastes embracing classical and rock genres. While Mia’s love for playing cello gives a fantastic touch to the film, her story of being entangled between her dreams and the man of her life is directed towards the path of a melancholic intersection and the way to that is indeed very manipulative, tear-jerking and undemanding. These attributes could have been used to make the film a palatable romantic offering than an ordinary teeny-weepy teenage drama that a real “The Fault in Our Stars movie-lover” can be disappointed about. Yes, they fall short in comparison.
If I Stay is a film that should give life to a best-selling novel but it lacks substance in execution. The way it is delivered does not showcase the talents and capabilities of an actress like Moretz who also fails to deliver in terms of emotional connection. Definitely, there is endless whispering of beautiful and heart-warming dialogues but the pain and anger are not evident in her performance. There is not even enough spark between her and Blackley. On the other hand, Stacy Keach, Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard are life-savers of this film as they show depth in acting and honesty in sourcing out emotions.
Overall, If I Stay is a screenplay that depicts some choices that young adults are facing today encompassing dreams, family, and love. Despite its unsurprising turn of events, it is sugary and honest, something that all incurable romantics would love to stay for.