Based off the novel of the same name by Gayle Forman, If I Stay has managed to stay relatively under the radar considering it’s pretty large YA following, lack of hype perhaps being the reason behind it’s success at remaining so true and honest to the book.
Cellist Mia Hall, in her own words, is the girl ‘who thinks about the Cello and Adam and whether a letter from Julliard is gonna be waiting’ for her back home, this is until her world is flipped upside down when a car crash leaves her in limbo, a ghost-like presence wandering the hospital unable to communicate but hearing and seeing everything around her. Learning that her parents are dead, Mia must make a choice whether to stay or go, recounting her life and hearing her friends and families pleas for her to stay.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars as Mia, the 16 year old actress more than capable of tackling leading roles by now, it’s great to see her given the opportunity to shine solo, without superhero sidekicks or older actors stealing the limelight. Jamie Blackley, a relatively new actor on the radar (who gives an amazing performance in Uwantme2killhim, which you should all check out), perfectly embodies the Adam Gayle Forman created on those pages, slick, laid back and a total heartthrob, his and Moretz’s chemistry is undoubted even if their dialogue a little cringe inducing at times a la ‘let’s play music together’ right before a sex scene, please someone pass me the vomit bag.
Although, the actual musical elements are the high point of the feature, it unites the whole story. Scenes with Mia’s family blasting punk rock and an Iggy Pop singing younger brother, pivotal moments in Mia and Adam’s relationship are sculpted via song, whether it’s a classical symphony or an almost tear inducing rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Today’ around a camp fire, the harmonious love of music embedded in each character ties them together in an almost sickly sweet fashion.
Previously stated sickly sweet nature can get the better of the film on rare occasions due to the choppy ‘important moments’ flashback construction in which the film was created and Moretz’s frequent KStew-esque gasps of air can become tedious but overall the film manages to hold it’s own and give constant romantic & funny contrast in story, much like the two opposite musical worlds Mia and Adam inhabit.