The heart of If I Stay was the connection and power of music to shape someone’s life, intricately weave lives together, and define love stories.
While Chloë Grace Moretz (Mia) gave a believable performance as a young woman embarking on first love and overcoming the fear of following her own passion, I was left wanting to see more emotion, especially due to the gravity of the plot. For someone who is repeatedly witnessing the tragic loss of every member of her immediate family, while no longer having a tangible connection to the living world, I wanted to see a bit more raw emotion from Moretz. Most times I could feel it rising up in scenes, only to be doused with a quick transition to a flashback or another scene; a good portion of the movie consists of Mia running around the hospital in a frantic daze as scenes jump from one to the other.
The male lead, Adam, played by Jamie Blackley portrayed the dreamy, mysterious musician but was a bit bland, while his emotional tantrums often felt selfish and juvenile. While there was some chemistry between the two, young characters, I was left wanting to delve more into the parent’s relationship. Interestingly enough, the characters that gave the movie true depth weren’t the ones with the most screen time, yet they lit up the screen every time they graced it.
And while different people and age groups have differing opinions on the topic, I was a bit concerned with the amount of teen sex and teen drinking used in the film. Since I have not yet read the novel the movie is based on, I’m not sure if these were parts of the text.
The conclusion came on an anticlimactic note as a Polergeist-like choice of either going into "the light" or staying on earth was highlighted by a build-up of crescendoing music and a mash up of Mia's memories and experiences flashing across the screen preceding her simply opening her eyes and Adam whispering her name. The screen goes to black and most viewers in attendance at my theater were confused about what to do next until the credits started rolling and a residual "okay?" was mumbled. All in all, while I loved the music and beautiful landscape of the film, on a scale of 5, I'd have to give it a 2.5.