If I Stay is based on the book by Gayle Forman. Based on the trailer and the book, which I have read, I was expecting a tearjerker of a movie, but it really wasn't that sad; most of it was a little overdone. However, it's the music in this film that really holds it together, and as a violinist, I loved the combination of cello and rock music throughout.
Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) has been playing the cello since she was a little girl, even though her father (Joshua Leonard) was a rocker, and her mom (Mireille Enos) was his biggest fan. She's in the middle of auditioning for colleges, and is thinking of applying to Julliard, even though she lives in Oregon; her musician boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley), wants her to stay on the West Coast. Mia and her family go out on a snowy afternoon to visit some family friends, and get hit head-on by a truck; they're all rushed to the hospital, but, soon enough,(semi-spoiler) Mia is the only one who makes it, though she's in a heavy coma. Mia and her body must decide whether she wants to - or even can - wake up.
The film was primarily told in flashbacks, which was a good idea. We see how Mia grew up playing the cello, how she meets Adam, and how her dad gave up being a rock star because he wanted to put his kids first. I was very surprised that, aside from a scene with Mia's grandfather (Stacy Keach, in a great but small role), this movie didn't have many stirring moments, because, like I mentioned before, the trailer definitely pulls at your heartstrings; the use of the song "Say Something" was perfectly suited to the trailer, too. Liana Liberato also has a small role, as Mia's best friend at her high school.
Yes, see this movie, but only if you like cello and/or rock music or are a teenage girl. Moretz does her best with what she's been given, but the dialogue often seems too contrived/schmaltzy. I loved the music throughout the film, though: rock music from when Mia was little and her parents brought her with them to her dad's shows, to cello music from her present and when she started playing, and then we come full circle when Mia starts going to Adam's band's shows. I have to say that Begin Again has more music, though, so if you can still find that in theaters, I'd recommend that over this movie. Because I'm a fan of Forman's book, I was hoping this wouldn't just be another "teen drama" film; unfortunately, although I overall enjoyed the movie, it mostly sticks to that formula in terms of dialogue and situations.
If I Stay is in theaters today, August 22nd, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 106 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.