After having already read the book version of If I Stay, I must admit I wasn’t expecting anything above mediocre.
After having already read the book version of If I Stay, I must admit I wasn’t expecting anything above mediocre. Despite keeping me interested in the storyline in a slightly gripping page turning way, I found the novel a little predictable and obviously written.
I felt like I knew the twists and turns before I turned each page. For me, the book wasn’t up to my expectations and if I’m honest I found the film lacking in many areas – even more so than the book.
A seemingly perfect life
The film tells the story of 17 year old Mia (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) who has fallen in love with a rocker named Adam (Jamie Blackley) and has a seemingly perfect life. Waiting to hear from the college Julliard, the beginning of the film showcases her deft cello playing and future musical ambitions.
The storyline takes a dramatic turn when her entire family are killed in a car accident, leaving her, the only survivor, in a coma. Using flashbacks, the character of Mia appears outside of her body and has to choose whether to wake up or to die. I guess really raising the question of her living for the love she has left, namely Adam, or dying for the love she has lost.
Reminiscent of other teenage romance films
Although at first glance this appeared to be an interesting concept, as the film progressed I became decidedly cynical of the expected plot dynamics and predictable content. I found that although the film wasn’t slow or tedious, it was very reminiscent of many other teenage romance films, playing on the same romantic notions.
I repeatedly felt out of place when I heard the row of 15 year old girls in front burst into a fit of giggles whenever a sex scene, sorry, kiss scene, came on the screen. And of course, when there was the expected tears and cuddles at the end from them, I came away feeling that the emotion in the film was all a little predictable, exaggerated and fake.
Not a strong protagonist
The characters were probably the strongest part, apart from the protagonist. I found the two main characters of Mia and Adam played the biggest role in creating the sickly romance feel, whereas the less prominent characters were more interesting.
Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard who played Mia’s parents were more engaging and interesting to watch, creating the rare moments of humour in the film. The protagonist’s grandfather (Stacy Keach) also gave a convincing demonstration of emotion near the films climax.
Mia’s friend Kim (Liana Liberato) was also convincing, funny and easy to relate to. These characters made some parts of the film humorous and interesting but I felt that the overly romantic and sickly plot turns made the film a little disappointing.
The use of music during the film was one of the best parts, creating more depth and interest. This additional layer took the focus away from the predictable storyline and taught the viewer more about musical emotion, rather than stereotypical emotions.
I found myself often cringing at the emphasis on typical high school romantic notions, which I didn’t think were necessary. I would argue that the film would have worked better if it was done from a more realistic slant, rather than a fanciful one, in terms of the involvement of the love story.
The wrong audience
Although this film wasn’t great, I think I was the wrong audience. I liked the concept, some characterisation and the involvement of music but the rest was a little too fanciful for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love romance but this film played it out too literally, using too many stereotypes. If you are fifteen and you and your friends are constantly discussing ‘the perfect guy’ this film is definitely a winner. I’m sure the teenage girls in front will have loved the bits I hated, befitting a more appropriate audience.
So if you like cheesy romance and heightened drama, give it a go. For those more into realism and depth, I would choose a different cinema screen.
Kettle Rating: 2/5
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.