After playing Hit Girl in the raunchy superhero adventure “Kick Ass,” fans expected much from Chloe Grace Moretz. Unfortunately, this talented actress found herself saddled with questionable projects like “Dark Shadows” and the forgettable remake of “Carrie.”
This month, Moretz takes the lead role in “If I Stay,” a love story based on Gayle Forman’s popular novel. Moretz’s talent is not enough, however, to overcome R.J. Cutler’s flawed direction and storytelling technique. This film is so boring that one wishes the lead character would just give up the ghost and end this agony.
The actress plays Mia Hall, a young cellist who has her heart set on attending Julliard. She’s also hurting because of Adam (Jamie Blackley), an up-and-coming musician. Adam and Mia had an intense relationship, but their dreams and desires put them on different paths. Mia loves her music, but she also can’t stop thinking about Adam.
Her world turns upside-down, though, after a devastating car wreck. Now a disembodied spirit, Mia watches as hospital workers struggle to save her. She desperately looks for a reason why she should stay in a world that has given her so much pain and heartache.
Director R. J. Cutler wastes several opportunities in his adaptation of “If I Stay,” most notably the supporting cast. Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard play Mia’s parents in this piece, and they are the most interesting characters in the bunch. Their family dialogues with Mia are the only saving grace in the story.
Cutler also relies heavily on flashbacks to tell Mia’s story, but this technique gets old really fast. Mia has a sweet, almost unbelievable romance with older classmate Adam. It’s almost impossible to get a handle on their relationship, though, with the action switching rapid-fire between the hospital and high school scenes.
As Mia, Chloe Grace Moretz carries the film, and she does the best she can with the material at hand. Unfortunately, the disembodied spirit plotline is so timeworn that the script offers nothing new. When Mia is ready to finally let go of life, the audience might feel like yelling “Walk into the light—please!”
Sad and depressing for all the wrong reasons, “If I Stay” is a forgettable love story that will make you wish you hadn’t wasted two hours on this mess of a movie.
“If I Stay,” rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material, currently is playing in theaters.