If I Stay is a new romantic movie with a hint of supernatural… but it’s mainly a romance about a teen girl who is a cellist in love with a slightly older boy who is a rock ‘n roller. She and her family get into a terrible car wreck and she has an out-of-body experience which acts as a frame story for the story of her life, her relationship with her family, and her romance with the boy.
The movie has some strong emotional beats, I won’t argue that. Stacey Keach (who by weird coincidence has a cameo in Sin City 2 that released on the same day) has a strong, powerful bedside mourning scene. Other scenes are moving as well. Chloe Grace Moretz puts her all into the movie but the writing and the film medium itself become a problem.
The biggest problem is the basic question that she has to decide… should she stay or should she go (into the light). Slight spoilers here but her mom, dad, and little brother die in the crash and she is alone… except for her loving grandparents, her loving aunt and uncle (and her newborn nephew), her best friend, and her boyfriend… and her massive talent as a cellist that got her an audition for Juliard. This kind of works in the book version since you can dig into the character’s head more… but in this movie, it is too visually apparent that, yes, it sucks her immediate family is dead, but she has this massive support system and massive talent to live for… so the question seems pointless. She has too much to live for yet the movie wants to suggest to us she doesn’t. Either the character is REALLY selfish or the movie isn’t really digging well enough into her emotional state. This ultimately took me out of the movie a little too much to really enjoy the ongoing drama.
Still had some heart-wrenching moments and that’s the kind of movie this is… it’s well-acted, sweet, fairly romantic, a little funny, and tragic.