By Tony Pinto
“If I Stay” is a movie that wants to make you feel all emotional.
It wants you to get invested in the characters. It wants to tug on your heart strings. It does those things at times, but most of the time everything just seems forced. For a movie based upon emotion, it lacks any true emotion.
Adapted from Gayle Forman’s book of the same name, “If I Stay” is a story about young love, life and death, and life choices. It’s basically like every other story written for teenage girls. This film is reminiscent of another movie released this summer called “The Fault in Our Stars.” Some can argue that this is just a rehashing of that film that’s not done as well.
The story is about Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) who has her whole life ahead of her until a car accident derails her future. She goes from being a promising cellist, to lying on a hospital bed trying to decide whether she should live or die. The movie moves fairly quickly from a happy snow day to the somberness of a car wreck.
It’s really two films in one. It’s the depressing hospital scenes and the mostly happy flashbacks. With two different types of scenes the emotional temperament of the film is all over the place. One minute you’ll be crying and then a flashback will happen that will make you happy again. It’s a back-and-forth of forced emotion. Teenage girls just might be an emotional wreck after the film.
Throughout the film we see flashbacks of important events in her life. We see her Dad (Joshua Leonard), her Mom (Mireille Enos), and her boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley) throughout the flashbacks. They are all different people who affect her life in different ways. Most of the flashbacks are very touching scenes, but again they seemed forced.
Her parents are these want to be rocker type people, while she’s just this completely opposite person who is into classical music. She’s so unlike her parents, which is normal, but in a strange twist she falls for Adam who is exactly like her parents. He’s the want to be a punk rocker who plays generic pop music.
It wants to show all of Mia’s happiness, her promise, and all her struggles but those things alone don’t make a movie. It tries hard to give us more than that, which it doesn’t succeed at. “If I Stay” makes us invest in all these characters but the characters don’t give us anything back. Life isn’t perfect and that’s what makes us human. The movie is made for its characters to be perfect.
But that makes for an uninspiring movie.
For Mia, her life doesn’t feel lived in, it feels unrealistic. Throughout the film, there is just a lack of anything that feels real. If you’re a teenage girl or someone who cries easily, you probably will cry so be warned. For anyone else this film will be like being in a coma for 90 minutes.
Tony Pinto’s grade B.