The stories of young love mixed with teen angst in adult scenerios have been the norm in Hollywood lately. One of the most recent, ‘If I Stay’, is now available to view on Netflix. Staring Chloe Grace Moretz, who first garnered attention in her role as Hit Girl in “Kick Ass”, ‘If I Stay’ follows the journey of Mia Hall who’s life is dramatically challenged as she and her family are involved in a terrible car accident. Mia awakes finding herself out of her body and able to see the doctors rushing to save her life. As she wanders the hospital debating whether or not to pass on or stay and fight she reflects on her life and the intense tumultuous relationship with her up and coming rocker boyfriend Adam.
Based off the book by Gayle Forman of the same name, Shauna Cross’s screenplay and the direction of R.J. Cutler tries to take the young love story into another emotional direction. The reflection of life from the main character is nothing new nor is the story of the quiet girl gaining the heart of the man that everyone loves, but adding in the paranormal out of body experience adds an enthralling touch. R.J. Cutler does a well enough job of cutting back and forth between Mia Hall watching over what is happening to her body and the bodies of her family and her life leading up to this moment. The choice of music while sometimes fuels a scene, other times it just seems to drag a scene out more. While the the story of the up and down relationship between Grace’s Mia Hall and Jamie Blackley’s Adam is the key story, it’s the relationship with the family that is more enticing.
R.J Cutler’s main goal is to tug on your heartstrings, and all the side characters deliver what is expected in their emotional scenes. Aisha Hinds as Nurse Ramirez delivers the words that start the movie flow of the film that inspiring and giving you hope. Stacy Keach is phenomenal as Gramps. With raw talent the legendary actor shows Gramp’s love for his granddaughter, and visually shows how heart wrenching it is to come to terms with letting a loved one go. Liana Liberato, who doesn’t get enough screen time as Mia’s best friend Kim gives a gut punching speech reminding you that family is who is there when needed, and isn’t always blood. Even Joshua Leonard as Mia’s former rocker father, Mireille Enos as Mia’s mother, and Jakob Davies as Mia’s younger brother Teddy prove themselves and convince you that they really are a close family. Jamie Blackley looks the part as the attractive and talented Adam, but his character is pretty hollow and basic. You are never truly convinced that Adam and Mia have intense love for one another. The chemistry just seems to be missing the fire. Unfortunately the blame falls on the shoulders of Chloe Grace Moretz. While everyone else around her shows true emotion, Chloe just comes across as so bland and emotionless. While she accomplishes the presentation of being the young uncomfortable teen, she just looks uncomfortable being in the film overall. Even when Mia is suppose to be happy she just looks annoyed. For every scene that is suppose to be heart breaking for Mia, Chloe tends to ruin the moment. She doesn’t look upset when she realizes the fate of her family, she just looks confused. She acts as if standing outside of her body is a usual occurrence and not as frightening as it is. A scene where Mia is running down the hallway and collapses in utter distress appears so fake, as if Chloe was so concerned about hurting herself on the fall she holds back. The only time Chloe Grace Moretz is convincing in her role as Mia is when she loses herself in playing her cello. Moretz must have done some serious training for this aspect of her role because she truly looks as if she is a master cellist.
‘If I Stay’ is a romantic notion that could have been something amazing for both teens and adults. The paranormal touch in this romantic story could have taken this plot even further if the emotion was correctly portrayed. This isn’t a horrible film but it is disappointing at how it could have been so much better. It’s worth seeing thanks to the supporting cast. With out them there would be no heart or passion in the film. With out them ‘If I Stay’ would be just another mediocre teen love story. Recently Chloe Moretz Grace won a teen choice award for drama actress which means over dramatic teens will enjoy the film much more than adults.