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MOVIE REVIEW - If I Stay

on 27 August 2014.

The new teen-drama, If I Stay opened up over the weekend to a decent box office take, but to very mild, if not unkind reviews.

This has a whole lot going against it right from the get-go.  I am almost astonished that this was thrown into theaters in mid-August.  Everything about this movie screams late October in its feel and look.  Being honest, this is a downer of a movie that will not be everyone's cup of tea. So it may have been wiser to wait till we all were feeling a bit more sentimental and reflective before releasing this on us.  And as good as this book may have been, this is an awkward adaptation to a movie.



This is the story of a teen cello-prodigy, Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz).   She is the eldest child of a "hippie" mom and dad in Portland, Oregon.  As where the young parents are free spirits and basically grown flower children, Mia is a very reserved if not outright conservative young woman who is immensely dedicated to her musical craft.  She lives with her parents and her little brother, Teddy.  And on one fateful day, the other three are killed in a terrible car crash.

Mia is still alive and fighting for her life. This movie is then told as she is on life support, and we flashback to the months leading up to this moment.  Mia's relationship with her family, and the first love of her life, her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley).  Adam is a bit older than Mia and is the front man in his own rock band.  So clearly we are getting the opposites attract thing here, as well as a bit of just typical sullen teen romance. 

Mia has applied to Julliard, auditioned for them, and she is waiting on her acceptance or rejection letter to arrive at the time of the accident.  She and Adam are having the all too common relationship problems that teens in love do, so this run of life changing events has that as a backdrop. Will this make them stronger, or will this be the end of not only the relationship, but will Mia even live?

This is a pretty heavy movie with little wiggle room for any room to breathe normally.   This deals with heavy matter and you need to know this as you enter the theater.  This has little to no levity, and that is not simply not eveybody's cup of tea.  This will be very appealing to the young romantics out there who can't get enough of forbidden, or ill-advised love in movies.  This has elements of originality that make it somewhat fresh.  I mean, how many movies have you seen that deal with a teen cellist?  And by the way, the solo cello playing you hear and see in this movie, is simply fantastic.



But this has a few real problems.  In no real order, it feels very long at times, and draggy in others. Also the lip-synching and the pretend rock music playing scenes are agonizing to watch.  Complete over acting, and really lousy original songs from Adam's up and coming rock band are insulting.  This was a chance to make a better movie.  Instead of 80 second versions of really bad and cliche' songs, maybe full versions of really good ones.  Those scenes would have been so much better, instead they are laughable.

Also, some weak writing and limited character development is an issue as well.  And at the end, one of the really big scenes where all the worlds come together in flashback form?. There's a chance to create something really special musically and visually, they blow it, and make it average at best.

I like Moretz though.   I am a fan of hers and it seems certain that eventually the projects will catch up to her appeal and talent.  She is a fresh face on screen, and there are better movies up ahead for her, including a real chance with Denzel Washington in The Equalizer in a couple weeks.

Kudos though to veteran actor Stacey Keach, who plays Mia's grandfather in a small but central role.  He holds court, and shows everyone on set how to act. Well done and good to see him back on the big screen.

If I Stay Moretz is good, movie is mediocre at best.

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