Film Review – If I Stay (2014)

if-i-stay-moretz-blackely

The film tells the story of Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz), after a car accident with her family, she finds herself in limbo/purgatory – and finding herself having the make a decision as to whether to live or die. Her whole family is dead, but she has a boyfriend Adam Wilde (Jamie Blackley) whom she wishes to stay with. Through flashbacks we find out more about her family life, and her love life, as she struggles with the decision which has been placed in front of her.

Based on a Young Adult story (which seems the ‘in thing’ at the moment, along with the superhero genre movie), the film seems to tell the story of Adam and Mia. Two people who couldn’t be more different. But they do share one common thread. Music. Adam is in a band, whilst Mia plays the cello. They meet because it seems Adam can really ‘see’ Mia when she plays the cello. It is their love of music, and their love FOR music which brings them together, even though they come from different worlds.

Adam seems to fit in more with Mia’s family than she does. They all like the same kind of music, and Mia, even though loved, seems like the black sheep. She is the complete opposite to her family, they seem to live in a kind of chaos, whereas like the cello, she has a life of order and structure.

Adam, as described by Mia, is already formed, he has his life, is ‘somebody’, and apart from his relationship with Mia and one point which comes up late in the film, we don’t really know much about him. Honestly, he isn’t the most developed of characters. His whole world seems to be Mia, and whilst teenage girls may like that, it doesn’t make him the most complex of characters. He does get a little bit towards the end. We find out, through stories, that he has pretty much had to fend for himself most of his life, and it is only brought up during one argument (the only real other source of conflict in the film) and it is quickly forgotten after ten minutes. James Blackley is little more than a girls fantasy of a boyfriend, he is loving and attentive – someone who you can bring home to your parents. Its that goody-two-shoes character which makes this film that little bit bland.

Mia is our main character, she is a girl who seems to have her life turned upside down by Adam, in a good way. He opens her up to her own music, makes her more comfortable in her own skin, but apart from that – but she is defined by her relationship with him. It seems to be the central point to the film, but there is much more which I feel could have been divulged into. Chloe Grace Moretz is great when she’s Hit Girl. But as ‘a girl’ she seems awkward, and can’t seem to play emotional very well. Her face rarely moves, as if though plugged with lots of botox. Her angst range is little more than falling on the floor, screaming and crying. At times it’s a little cringe worthy.

The better relationship, and one which is revealed over the course of the film is that of Mia and her family, Kat Hall (Mireille Enos) and Danny Hall (Joshua Leonard). Little is said about Kat Hall, she is there as a background character, we know little about her, but Enos does her best with what little is given. It is Leonard’s character who intrigued me most. Much like Mia he had to make a big decision in his life. At one point, he decided to stop being a musician and just be a father. It is touched on throughout the film, and I think it is a more important factor to the film. Sacrifice, both he and his daughter have to sacrifice something in their lives and that would have been a better central premise to the film.

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Ricky Diaz
[rating=2]

Genre:
Drama
Distributor:
Warner Bros
Release Date:
29th August 2014 (UK)
Rating: 12A
Running Time:
138 Minutes
Director:
RJ Cutler
Cast:
Chloe Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard