Just in case you didn’t get your fill of crying at the movies with “Fault In Our Stars,” “If I Stay” gives you another chance.
Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Morenz) is a talented cellist who feels she must decide between going to Julliard or staying with her rockstar boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley). Her angst looks like small potatoes, though, after her family is involved in a fatal crash.
Her mom (Mireille Enos) and dad (Joshua Leonard) are killed instantly, and her brother, Teddy (Jakob Davies), is rushed to the hospital. Mia finds herself in her own pickle — she is able to roam about the hospital in an out-of-body experience while in a coma, and is given the choice of whether to live or die.
Like in Gayle Foreman’s novel by the same name, the story is told largely in flashbacks — one minute Mia is in surgery, the next she’s practicing the cello. Remarkably, the overall timeline of events is pretty clear. Gradually the pieces of Adam and Mia’s tumultuous love story fall into place, so by the end it does seem sad they’re on the rocks. Her family’s character and dynamic is revealed piece by piece so it’s hard not to feel their loss.
As can be expected, “If I Stay” milks the sadness for all it’s worth. It doesn’t get sappy, exactly, but it definitely does seek to turn on the waterworks. I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but about an hour and a half in, there were more sniffles from the audience than a child daycare with a cold going around.
One thing I loved about this movie was the soundtrack. I’m a sucker for good movie soundtracks. Adam’s band has some good numbers, and the rest of the music is split between punk rock and classical cello pieces. The first thing I looked up about this movie after seeing it was whether they’re releasing a soundtrack and, good news, they are, unlike some other movies I could mention (I’m looking at you, “Warm Bodies”).
Being completely honest, I don’t like to go to movies that make me sad. There are enough sad things everywhere without me choosing to go to something I know will make me sad. I think “If I Stay” was going for being sad while reminding people how precious life is and showing how much love people can have, but mostly I was just sad. I was mostly sad when I read the book, too, so I think this is just a sad thing all the way around.
I did, however, hear other theater-goers talk about how beautiful it was as everyone shuffled out and tried to discreetly wipe away tears, so that could just be me.
Time: 106 minutes