Imagine your happiest memory with your family. Now pretend, in the middle of that happy, memorable moment your entire family dies. If you’re able to put yourself there without too much psychological trauma, then you have some idea of what Mia Hall, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, experiences in the film If I Stay.
The film tells the story of a young musical prodigy who, due to a horrible accident, must cope with the loss of her family, the possibility of her own death, and inevitably choose to go into “the light” or stay behind with the love of her life, Adam, all while witnessing her closest friends and family coping, grieving, and praying for her and her family.
As a person can easily assume, this is very much a romance movie, and at times can be a little excessively mushy, but as a male audience member seeing a “chick-flick”, Alex Carrol says, “It gets to you at points, if you put yourself in that place. That’s what I do in chick-flicks.” A female audience member, Mayra Rojas, reacted to the film, saying, “I loved this movie. I cried. This is number one on my list.”
The film definitely has its pros and cons, but overall it is a heartwarming, touching, and thought-provoking film. One problem with the film is the flashback scenes. Originally these scenes are meant to provide character development, and connect the characters better to the audience; instead they tended to drag on a bit too long, which made it easy to forget what was happening after the crash, and at points the fact that there was a crash at all. Another was its tendency to embellish the romantic scenes between Mia and Adam to an unnecessary extent.
However, these faults are overshadowed by the surprisingly good editing. The most critical scene in the film, the car accident, was dwelt on briefly, and was implied rather than shown explicitly. With one powerful shot, a single column of smoke rising out of the wintery Oregon forest, the filmmakers make their point concisely, yet poignantly. On several occasions, the narrative switches between a beautiful, pleasant memory, to a horrible, painful reality in the blink of an eye, better illustrating the struggle in Mia’s choice to stay behind for love, or move on with her family.
Another plus to the film is the acting. The two leads, Chloe Moretz and Jamie Blackley, make a believable teenage couple, and have a few strong moments together, but the real gems in this cast are the supporting actors. While most films hide the supporting characters underneath the leads, some of this film’s best moments are brought to life by the supports, such as Mia’s parents, Kat (Mireille Enos) and Denny (Joshua Leonard), and her grandfather, or “Gramps” (Stacy Keach).
Despite its few flaws, and with its many strong points, If I Stay makes an excellent date-night movie, especially for music-lovers. As a whole, If I Stay earns an 8/10.