By Gary Murray

Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, and Jamie Blackley

Written by Shauna Cross

Directed by R. J. Cutler

Running time 106 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Free TV


Chloe Grace Moretz is one of the coolest actresses on the planet.  She made her first impression as Hit Girl in the flick Kick Ass. Her character could use a staff-stick on bad guys, spewing blood from the edge of frame.  She played a kid vampire in Let Me In and the obsessed lead in Carrie.  Easily the best thing in Dark Shadows, this young actress has taken some morbid roles over scant years in her career.  Trying to broaden her base, she was a part of the Oscar winning Hugo.  In her latest role, she takes on the teen ‘weepie’ genre with If I Stay

The film is the story of Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young woman with a talent for the cello.   She is obsessed with classical music, much to the chagrin of her rock-and-roll parents.  But, like most teen girls, she is interested in boys.  She catches the eye of local rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley) a guy who has a band that is about to break big.

The family gets a snow day and is driving in the countryside when the car looses control.  We see Mia out of her body and watching the paramedics working on her.  At first she does not realize what is happening but slowly she puts the clues together. 

She is in a coma, floating between life and death.  It is during this that we get a giant series of flashbacks, showing both her family and her budding relationship with Adam.  All the while a nurse keeps telling her that it is up to her whether she will live or go on.  It is a five handkerchief flick.    

The film is directed by R. J. Cutler but it is not directed very well.  The film slides in and out of focus on more than on occasion and it doesn’t seem for any dramatic effect.  For a good portion of the film, he has a very confined space to work and does not know how to maximize the restriction.  At time it feels like a play shot on a stage than a full motion picture.  The material needed a different approach.

Chloe Grace Moretz does look perfectly beautiful in the role, but it is not much of a role.  For someone who has delivers cool performance after cool performance, this feels like a paycheck role, taken to generate cash and not for any artistic sentiments.  It is understandable that an actress wants to build a larger fan base but this film feels more like a manipulation.

Young Jamie Blackley looks like one of those Tiger Beat boys, a teen who is a bit non-threatening but still edgy.  His mug will probably be plastered on the walls of pre-teen girls right next to their One Direction posters.  The music his character Adam plays sounds like the Plain White T’s but not in a good.  It is bland, soulless music that never delivers on a emotional scale, just the kind of pabulum that is a part of today’s radio stations.

If I Stay is much more like a Lifetime Movie than a major motion picture.  It might be better on a smaller screen than on a giant silver screen.  It is the kind of film that will be in just about every 13 year-olds Christmas stocking in a few months.  It is just not a film made for me. 

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