if-i-stay

If you wade through all the sap of If I Stay there’s actually a good movie. It’s one filled with nice moving little moments between its cast, and a climax that one would have to have a heart of coal not to be moved by. Based on the popular young adult novel by Gayle Forman, and directed by R.J Cutler (The September Issue) it’s a movie teenagers no doubt will connect with.

Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is an offbeat cello prodigy from 90s indie rock scene parents – a nicely used Mireille Enos, and Joshua Leonard.  There’s an old as the hills movie cliché of tightly wound kids that come from hippie parents, and never has it been strangely pulled off more charmingly then it has here. The flashbacks of the grunged out Enos, and Leonard dragging baby Mia to her father’s rock shows are among my favorite of the film.

When school is canceled on a snowy Oregon day, the family takes a trip to their grandparents’ house and a car runs into the family’s vehicle. Mia is pulled from the car in a coma, but another version of Mia walks away from the accident in an outer body experience as she witnesses the aftermath of the devastation that affects both her and the family. During her outer body experience, Mia must decide whether to wake up and live with the aftermath of the accident or go on to the afterlife.

For the most part it’s very sappy material that could induce some major eye rolling, but it’s remarkable how much of the movie works so well. The material is handled  carefully here as it employs the use of flashbacks of Mia’s life leading up to the accident.  There’s a romance involved between Mia and a teenage musician cutie named Adam (Jamie Blackley), which frames the narrative as it flows to and from the accident.

Young Adult novels are now a widely tread path in the movies thanks to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, and this  movie is a fine addition to it that doesn’t for once involve teenagers trying to kill themselves, falling in love with a vampire, or running around in dystopian society. Like The Fault In Our Stars captured young moviegoers’ hearts back in June with a Love Story ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’ throwback to the teenage weepies of times past, this movie will probably follow suit. Yes it’s a little heavy-handed at moments, Moretz’s clunky voiceovers being one of these, but there are still plenty of memorable moments in the film that make it satisfying to walk away from.