If I Stay

Movie Review #930


Premiered in New York City, New York on August 18, 2014 and in Los Angeles, California on August 20, 2014. Nationwide release on August 22, 2014. Drama/Music/Romance. This film is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material. Runs 107 minutes. An American production. Director: R.J. Cutler. Screenplay: Shauna Cross. Novel: Gayle Forman. Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Stacy Keach, Gabrielle Rose, and Jakob Davies.


By Alexander Diminiano

Wanna know how uninteresting the protagonist in “If I Stay” is? Okay, so she plays the cello, she has a little brother who loves classic rock music, two parents who are obsessed with classic rock music, and a boyfriend who plays rock music in a band of his own. But the cello isn’t why she’s uninteresting. It’s that her life is so boring and typical for a Hollywood romance, and that unless she’s reading music and needs to play well, she doesn’t seem capable of using her brain at all. For those who are familiar with last year’s “What Maisie Knew”–a much better tearjerker that will actually make you, you know, CARE for its characters–it’s as if the observant five-year-old from that film grew up and became an idiot.

One fine day, school is cancelled because of the snow, and her parents are dumb enough to go out driving on back roads. Her parents are the kind of people who shouldn’t be parents, the kind of people who surprisingly don’t live in their own parents’ basements, regardless of the fact that they’re both forty-something. So they’re both probably hungover when they’re driving. Where was I?

Okay, yeah, so this protagonist gets in a car crash. Her brother and parents die. She’s in a coma, and apparently she has the power to choose whether she survives or not. She gets two different visions of herself from hereon. One is what her life would be like if she kept living it. Basically, she would argue with her boyfriend, have sex with her boyfriend, complain about her boyfriend, complain to her boyfriend’s face, go to her boyfriend’s concerts, and complain constantly to him about how she doesn’t want him to be so busy. So basically, if she lives, everything’s about her boyfriend, though she’s for some reason beginning to question whether she actually loves her boyfriend.

The other vision she sees is when she watches over her comatose body in the hospital. That consumes half the movie, as if the other half isn’t boring enough. And I don’t know why it takes her so long to decide to keep on living. It seems like such an obvious decision. I just wish she actually had the sense to realize this before wasting two hours of my time trying to decide whether she feels like living. If this character was actually decisive, I could have spared myself a terrible movie.

It’s extremely rare that I’ll choose to watch a movie dubbed, but it seems I’ve just made a bit of an exception. “If I Stay” is a very, very boring movie–so boring that I felt compelled to watch the last 30 minutes in French just to keep myself awake. Watching this movie is like counting sheep, except instead of sheep, you’re counting every little Hollywood cliché that you swear you’ve seen a million times before.

“If I Stay” looks good on paper. Actually, maybe that isn’t true, because its script was more than likely printed on paper. So the concept is pretty good, but forget it, because it’s not the concept anybody cares about. It’s the actual movie, which sucks.

I never thought I’d say that about a Chloë Grace Moretz movie, once upon a time. I always try and think of her career optimistically. You can’t deny that there was some serious talent in her performance as the little sister in “(500) Days of Summer”. Alas, that was five and a half years ago, and she’s made a number of movies since. I struggle to think of one that was truly good. “Kick-Ass”, I guess. I also really liked “Kick-Ass 2”, but I might be the only one who does. Anyway, “If I Stay” isn’t the worst movie of Moretz’s career thus far. Now if we forget that she was in “Movie 43”, it’s quite the contender.

One final note. While most of “If I Stay” failed miserably to grab me, there was one scene that I will honor. Late in the movie, director R.J. Cutler hits one solid note in this film with his interpretation of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today”, which captures the song atmospherically on an arrangement for vocals, a cello, and an acoustic guitar.  This particular scene has really been growing on me, perhaps because it’s just too beautiful to fit with the rest of this god-awful picture.  Needless to say, as soon as Cutler has said his peace on the “Today” scene, he falls over off the track once more, crashing and burning once again, as he proceeds to an ending so abrupt that it’s both confusing and amusing. But part of me is thankful for the abrupt ending, because it meant the movie was over.

If you still are not quite convinced, please understand that 9 words will be running through your head during this movie: “I’ll burn my eyes out before I get out.” Actually, that’s a line from “Today”, but it works.


11 thoughts on “If I Stay

    • We’re on the same page here. My sister convinced me to watch it. Actually, I bought it for her for Christmas, since she was reading the book and loving it. She watched it the night before we had to fly out to Hawaii and then urged me to watch it on the plane ride.

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