run time: 106 mins
director: R.J. Cutler
starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Stacy Keach, Gabrielle Rose, Jakob Davies, Ali Milner, Aisha Hinds, Gabrielle Cerys Haslett, Lauren Lee Smith, Adam Solomonian, John Emmet Tracy, Chelah Horsdal
movie summary: Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is just your average teenage girl who is not part of the popular kids group at school. Ever since she was a little girl Mia has kept to herself by practicing and playing the cello. Her dad Denny (Joshua Leonard) was the lead guitarist in a band when he met her mom Kat (Mireille Enos). After Mia was born she was brought from club to club to watch her dad perform. One day Mia took interest in the cello after coming across it at school, her dad would quit the band to sell his guitar to buy his daughter the gift that would change her life.
Mia practices day and night through her childhood and teenage years. She often stays after school to practice in the school’s music room when she catches the eye of one of the school’s more attractive guys, fellow musician, Adam (Jamie Blackley). Mia’s whole life has revolved around classic music and playing the cello that she has never had a boyfriend. Adam approaches her and offers to take her to the symphony as a first date. The two have a wonderful time before going for a walk to talk and share their first kiss.
The two become inseparable as their young love blossoms. Adam is the lead singer in a local band that is looking to get signed. Mia begins to attend all his shows and after parties only to realise she doesn’t fit into his crowd. She falls in love with Adam who tries his best to spend as much time as possible with her and record his band’s album. Show after show Mia is always backstage waiting for Adam to finish talking to his fans, but grows impatient when he spends more and more time talking to other girls then spending that time with her.
Mia decides to take the chance and apply to one of America’s most renowned music schools, Juilliard, in New York City. She begins to practice even harder and harder to perform the perfect masterpiece for her audition in San Francisco. A few weeks go by before Mia finds the courage to tell Adam that she applied to school and is seriously considering going there. Adam loses his cool with her over the fact she didn’t bother to tell him and that she’s thinking about throwing away all their plans of going to college and living together. Their anger towards one another is short-lived because Adam realizes that Mia has a gift and that he must support her because of how much she means to him.
In San Francisco Mia gives a breath-taking performance that leaves the three judges speechless, including her Gramps (Stacy Keach). Mia returns home to find Adam and the two share a romantic evening to talk about the future. She honestly doesn’t think she’ll get into Juilliard and clings to the hope of going away to school with Adam. At his next show Adam autographs a women’s chest which causes a heated argument between the two young lovers while he packs and leaves for a gig out-of-town. It will be the last time the two will talk face to face because Adam dumps her.
After a few days of crying and mopping around the house, the City of Portland has a snow day so Mia’s family decide to drive into the city to go do something fun. On their drive in Mia, along with Denny, Kat, and her brother Teddy (Jakob Davies) get hit head on by a truck that slides out of control. When Mia wakes up she has to face the harsh reality that she is alive, but is still asleep in a deep coma.
my thoughts: I have to be honest with all of you because there’s no need to hide the truth, I cried, I cried a lot during this movie. If I Stay was a story that I fell for from the very beginning and clung to until the very end. My love of Chloe Grace Moretz set me up for those kind of feelings because I was still hooked knowing how predictable the ending would be. I also can’t deny the fact that I am in love with romance and love stories, so to watch Mia and Adam have a passionate relationship while both try to launch their musical careers was inspiring. They may come from different social circles but they share a connection, a connection a lot of people wish they could find. That connection is what fuels their romance which has its high and low points just like everyone else. It’s their love for each other that allows them to rebound from those bad moments and continue to make things work despite an uncertain future.
The whole movie and story focuses on Chloe’s character who has such a bright and promising future only to see it all come crashing down with one accident. She is shy and awkward at first but throughout the film opens up thanks to Adam’s influence on her life. She’s spent every day surrounding herself with music that she’s never shared in the adventures most kids/teenagers have. Adam comes along and changes everything, but for the better. He’s her first and only love. It’s a love so deep that she spends the second half of the movie torn between her dreams and her relationship. She believes that she wouldn’t lose Adam despite the long distance and the fact he’s out touring the west coast promoting his record. She knows it can work because she believes in herself, in Adam, and their relationship. After getting dump, her character tries her best to coup with this devastating heartbreak while she waits every day for a letter that can change her future.
Jamie Blackley is a promising actor and singing talent. He fits the band guy boyfriend persona on every level including his attitude and ego. He is charming enough to win Mia over but when things don’t go according to plan he gets selfish and angry. His whole life has been a struggle with music as his only escape. He’s not willing to let anything get in the way of him making records and doing gigs even though he loves Mia more than music. When he realizes that he may lose her to a school across the country he is willing to walk away from her because everyone else has always bailed on him in his life. His character has a lot of personal demons that the story doesn’t really go into, which cause him to run instead of confront them. When Mia goes injured he realizes the best thing to happen him may never come back. He’ll fight the hospital security guards to sit by her side, play her music, or just hold her hand. It took a tragic moment like this to make him realize their relationship means more to him then anything else.
Most of you will know from past movie reviews I hate movies that flash back and forth to tell the story. I prefer straight forward storylines with flashbacks only used to share memories. My feelings towards If I Stay are the complete opposite and I seriously didn’t mind the way this story was presented. It tells the story from Mia’s point of view beginning with the morning of the accident all the way back to Mia’s first date with Adam. The story is really sad and instead of focusing on the reality of her character lying in a hospital bed hooked up to several machines, we get a glimpse of how great of a person she was and what wonderful things she had going for her. The people who cared about her will visit, cry, and pray for the best which makes this teenage love story as real as possible. It’s not a just story about first love, but a story about life.
my final thoughts: It was no secret how excited I was to see If I Stay and the movie didn’t disappoint me one bit, I seriously consider it to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2014. For the guys out there, the majority of you will not like it and will only attend to make your girlfriend/wife happy. The girls will be happy because either they read the book or love emotional stories that make you wipe away a tear or two. Despite its negative reviews, this heart warming story will be a win for anyone who loves those dramatic sentimental movies.
my star rating: 9 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 38% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 2.5 out 4