If I Stay (2014)

If I Stay (2014)
  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: R.J. Cutler
  • Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Liana Liberato, Jamie Blackley


Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.


  • Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) is just a girl thinking about the cello, Adam (Jamie Blackley), and an acceptance letter from Juilliard. At the end of the intended tearjerker If I Stay, she is still thinking about those same things though now burdened with making a literal life or death decision.

    Mia and her family have been left comatose following a car accident. The meat of the movie follows Mia’s spirit as she runs up and down hospital corridors trying to suss out her family’s fate while also flashing back to happier times when she was just an ordinary girl dealing with the usual teenage problems. Shy and introverted, she’s the black sheep of her family: her dad (Joshua Leonard) is a former punk rocker, her mom (Mireille Enos) is a bohemian rock chick; even her little brother Teddy (Jakob Davies) would rather listen to Iggy Pop than her favoured Bach or Beethoven.

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  • Chole Grace Mortez is proving to be an up and coming actress. She plays the lead role of Mia Hall as she wants to get a scholarship to Julliard rather than her hometown in Oregon. As an excellent cello player.

    She comes from a family of hippies and also a rock musician boyfriend played by another up and coming actor Jamie Buckley who plays Adam.

    One day while going out for a drive to go to her grandparents farm, as a truck collides into their car. Leaving Mia to have an out of body experience. While her parents and younger brother, strive to survive the accident.

    It flashes back and forth to how she met her boyfriend, to trying to get into Julliard, how she got into the cello and loved classical music despite being different from her hippie parents, but are so loving towards another, and her on again and off again relationship with Adam.

    It is sad but it is also showing that love can indeed try to keep you together in very tough situations. Chole carries the film indeed with grace.

  • This is a well balanced romantic drama. The movie has a good balance between family tragedy of a horrific car accident and teen romance of young love. Also the theme of music is well shared between classical cello and Pacific Northwest rock band. The romance is a convincing tale – not too passionate for their age but with the real problems of differing paths and East Coast (Juillard) vs West Coast (rock band). This is a problem that face many couples and it’s good to see proper issues as the problem instead of trumped up melodrama. The story felt more real than “The Fault in Our Stars” and less sentimental too. In fact although the tale is a sad one, it’s the best of the recent teen based romance movies far better than “The Giver”.

    Chloe Grace Moretz proves she can do anything from horror (Carrie) to action (Kick Ass) to moving romantic drama. Her face is sensitive and expressive. Even though she is very pretty she is such a good actress she can still pull off the shy musical prodigy without being fake. Her love interest is played by Jamie Blackley who does a good job without overacting. He isn’t too good looking so it’s a believable romance. The ex rocker type parents seem like they couldn’t have had such a beautiful daughter but never mind. Stacy Keach is surprisingly effective as her grandfather.

    Well done – moving, involving, rings true.

  • “They say your whole life flashes in front of your eyes just before you die…” or so they say. This quote it is an actual quote from my feature film “11” which seems so fitting to the new romantic drama “If I Stay”.
    It has been proven scientifically that in the moment of tragic death our pineal gland produces a psychedelic compound called DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). The way the mystics explain this is that DMT allow us a last psychedelic trip that eases our transition to the next world, if you believe in life after death that is. This brings closure to the soul which is then able to move on to an afterlife without any attachments. To a larger sense this is what “If I Stay” is all about, a prolonged DMT trip.

    “Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.”

    The set up is straight forward, she is a classical cello player, he is a rockstar with abandonment issues and yet there is an attraction there that is powerful enough to concur death in someway.
    There is a sweetness about this film that creates sense of nostalgia in the viewer revisiting in our memory the people we’ve lost to a sickness or other type trauma. This type of empathy is absolutely necessary to fully be able to enjoy this film. Those of you who do not like to go inwards and examine those feeling might leave the cinema with bitter grim on the face. They say how can you know true joy if you’ve never experience true sorrow. As the main character is stuck in coma she revisits all the important moments in her life that shaped who she is. Should she come back to life knowing that possibly she will be an orphan or should she go into the gentle night. I don’t think that by the end of this film there was a dry eye in the screening room. Big credit goes to the actors delivering very believable performances.
    Chloë Grace Moretz seems to be on a roll. After “Kick-Ass” and remake of “Carrie” she really is raising fast on the Hollywood star leader. She delivers very sympathetic and full of depth performance that might get stuck in you head for a while after watching.
    Mireille Enos in a supporting role as her mother brings messiness and punk rocker demeanor in to otherwise soulful performance. Jamie Blackley playing Adam showcases his voice a young rockstar charisma with ease. Other members of the supporting cast like Stacy Keach (Gramps) and Liana Liberato (Kim) as well as Joshua Leonard who plays the father who sacrifices his dream of being rockstar so that his little girl can get the cello she uses to become a skilled musician. All the credit should not go only to the cast but should be shared with the director R.J. Cutler who in fact before this film had mostly documentary experience. He was able to create a safe environment for the actors to truly share themselves with the audience. “If I Stay” is recommended to the audience who is not afraid to confront their sense of loss and to some extent pain because this is what this movie all about.
    (******** out of 10)
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  • A romantic story with a horrific twist, Mia Hall has an out-of-body experience after a horrific car accident that takes her away from her family and puts her in a coma. Looking back at her life, she must decide whether to wake up to a life far different than she ever imagined or move on to the after life.

    From the trailer, If I Stay is made out to be more of a thriller, rather than a romantic story, however this is not the case. We are introduced to Mia, played by Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass 2), just before the accident, where she voice-overs the entire film (an unnecessary tool that could have easily been removed). After the accident around 15/20 minutes into the film, we are cut away from the present to constant flashbacks of Mia’s past, where we find out more about her family life, as well as her story with boyfriend, Adam, played by Jamie Blackley (The Fifth Estate).

    For a film based on a tragic car crash, with a huge decision whether or not to live on, it’s far too focused on the romantic side of the story. Her story with Adam dominates the film, with their first meeting all the way to the most intimate details of their relationship, it can be quite sickly at times. There are far too many…
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  • Hey, everybody cries at the movies. Heck, to this day I even sob when I view the ending of Hoosiers (and I’m 40 years old, crazy right?). So at a screening for what was supposed to be a three handkerchief flick, I checked around the room to see if any audience member had their tear ducts flowing. Not one, nothing but dry eyes. Should I tell everyone to revisit Ghost again (a film that the one I’m about to review sort of resembles)? I guess so. But most people have probably already seen it. Well, to those who haven’t viewed that spooky gem from 1990 yet, you’ll probably get word of mouth from other moviegoers and figure it out. You don’t need my help.

    Anyway, here are the words that I would use to describe the teen tearjerker If I Stay (which takes place in Oregon): manipulative, overlong, and a tad sappy. While there are a few heartfelt moments, this vehicle only comes to life towards the last half hour. Within this half hour, it concentrates solely on hospital scenes showing our protagonist (Chloe Grace Moretz is miscast but she stills radiates a little screen presence as Mia Hall) laying comatose in a trauma ward bed. Prior to that, If I Stay consists of an uneven dispersal involving present day scenes that possess virtually no dramatic tension and tireless, young love flashbacks that resemble an episode of The O.C. as opposed to an actual feature length film.

    Like the aforementioned Ghost, If I Stay follows the story arc of the 2004 firefighter drama Ladder 49. “49” is a flick in which the hero or main character, is shown dying at the beginning and the remainder of the proceedings involve flashbacks of their life leading up to that point. If I Stay also feels a lot like the 2005 dramedy Just Like Heaven in which the lead role (Reese Witherspoon as Dr. Elizabeth Masterson) is on the verge of dying, leaves her body, and is able to watch her unconscious self being slowly brought back to life. I have to say that Ladder 49 and Just Like Heaven are unfortunately, really lousy movies. Is If I Stay a better film than the utterly disposable ones just mentioned? Yes, but only slightly better and I’m being generous, trust me.

    Based on a novel (of the same name) written by Gayle Forman, If I Stay begins with images of an Oregon forest and treetops of heavy snow. The movie chronicles the character of Mia Hall (Moretz). She grew up the child of hippy rock band parents (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard as Denny and Kat Hall). Instead of following in their rock n’ roller footsteps, Mia decides instead to concentrate on playing beautiful classical music via her cello. As the proceedings move along, Mia falls in love with a fellow boy musician at her high school (Adam Wilde played by Jamie Blackley who kind of looks like a young Tom Hanks), tries to get into The Juilliard School harnessing her music, and eventually succumbs to a car accident where her, her brother, and her parents become severely injured.

    In the first paragraph of the review, I talked about the fact that If I Stay contains flashbacks (and there are a bunch of them). In fact, the whole film is concentrated almost solely on flashbacks. We see Mia’s early childhood, her relationship with her family, her love for the cello at a young age, and yes, the soggy melodrama between her and her rocker boyfriend. Every once in a while, If I Stay when it feels like it, decides to intercut these flashbacks with present day scenes in the hospital where Mia is on the verge of death (from her car accident). Here in lies the problem: these scenes are short, underwritten, underplayed, and lack serious dramatic heft. In fact, the car crash sequence that should be designed to illicit a heavy response from your typical moviegoer, has almost no buildup and it happens in the blink of an eye. Honestly, it was so quick it’s as if it never happened. Finally, there’s Moretz in the title role. She narrates most of the running time and it kills any dramatic momentum that “Stay” could have contained. Ultimately, it’s too perky. And I guess she’s seventeen in real life but honestly, she looks about 13 or 14 here. She doesn’t appear fully developed enough to resemble a high school student and she actually has a PG-13 style love scene. Pretty darn creepy if you ask me.

    In conclusion, If I Stay is a mixed bag for sure. And although I believe that Chloe Grace Moretz can indeed act, she looks and comes off as a little too young to carry a romantic drama. Along with a tiring, recycled screenplay (which includes lots of make-up break-up stuff that is better suited for the teenage crowd than a serious adult audience member) and a story that although decently told, seems to drag on and on, If I Stay ends on a down note if you think about it (I won’t reveal whether the Mia character lives or dies but (spoiler alert) her family doesn’t make it in the car crash and if she had survived, would her life by any less scarred?). Bottom line: if you are not patient with this movie, you as the audience member, might say to yourself, “should I go?”

    Of note: if you choose to take in a viewing of If I Stay, look for the stars of the film hovering around a bonfire and singing an acoustic guitar/cello version of “Today” by Smashing Pumpkins. Gosh, I almost forgot how much I missed that song.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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