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‘If I Stay’ bittersweet simplistic candy

If I Stay

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Is this the time of teen angst in which the questions of love and romance inevitably involve death? The parting of lovers due to untimely tragedy? This seems to be the same query that was asked in “The Fault in the Stars” except that here, the one who has parted is in some kind of coma induced limbo in which she is faced with deciding whether to live or die.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blakely
Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blakelywww. facebook.com

Chloë Grace Moretz is Mia Hill a high school student, who is also a cellist in a rather eclectic family. Her father, Joshua Leonard, Denny, was a drummer in a rock and roll band until her mom Kat, Mireille Enos became pregnant with her younger brother Teddy, Jakob Davies. Denny gave up his dreams of being a rock and roll star to be an English teacher and father to his family. Then one day Mia borrowed a cello from her school and loved it so much her dad bought her one of her own.

Fast forward to her junior year in high school when she is practicing in school and Adam, Jamie Blakely spies her through a window and is suddenly entranced. He asks her out, however she is so shy and withdrawn that she does not truly get how much he likes her. Adam is a singer in a rock band and a year older than her. He takes her to a concert his band is performing at. While she is happy to be there, it is clear that she feels out of place.

Mia’s place is a concert hall, while his is an arena of screaming teenagers who want to rip his clothes off. How will their two worlds meet? When Mia applies to a school out of state, Adam feels threatened. He points out that his own family left him, and so he does not want to lose her.

Then of course the ultimate tragedy happens when Mia and her family are in a car accident. Who will survive? Will Adam be there for her? Will she chose to stay even if he is all she has?

“If I Stay” is riddled with clichés. The family is too perfect, (her parents actually encourage her to stay out past her curfew with Adam) and support and love her, even though her decision regarding her career versus Adam, could derail her entire life. In addition, it is not so much if she will stay, but what the results will be. Unfortunately, we never get to see that because the entire movie is predicated on that one choice.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia does a fine job in portraying this however, in many ways this felt like she was redoing her role as Carrie, if Carrie had musical talent. She is the same kind of quiet, awkward girl who does not know how to dress. The difference here is that her entire life is consumed with music. This is understandable, yet it is her love for Adam that brings her out of her shell.

Another issue with this film is its constant side tracking between the hospital scenes and the past. This slows the pace of the film down, and delays the outcome. For, like all sleeping beauties the question is not will she wake up, it is how she will cope afterwards. That the film ends on an extremely abrupt note, and never even attempts to answer this, leaves the viewer hanging. We are held in limbo wondering how she managed. Did she go on to become a concert cellist? Did she remain with Adam? This would have been infinitely more interesting and further would have lent a sense of depth and reality to the characters that were portrayed.