Thursday, August 21, 2014

If I Stay - 3 stars

From Wikipedia: The story follows 17-year-old Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) as she deals with the aftermath of a catastrophic car accident involving her family. In a coma, Mia has an out-of-body experience, and watches as friends and family gather at the hospital where she is being treated. Mia watches as her memories flash before her eyes as she comes to realize that she must decide if she should wake up and lead a life far more difficult than she ever anticipated, or slip away and die.

The movie moves back and forth between Mia in the hospital after the accident, and the year prior to the accident.  We watch her meet Adam, the lead singer of a local rock band.  She and Adam fall in love despite their musical differences - he's into punk rock, she loves classical.  She even has Yo-Yo Ma stickers in her locker.  As high school ends, Mia has to decide whether to try to get into Juilliard or stay in Oregon and be close to Adam. 

For a while, I was kind of annoyed with the back and forth.  I was getting to like these characters, and I was much more interested in watching their relationship progress than watching her ghost walk around the hospital and observe her friends and family sitting in the waiting room.  I felt like the out-of-body thing was an unnecessary gimmick, and I would have preferred a standard, chronological story.  As the movie went along I started to get less annoyed, but I still think the movie would have worked without the gimmick.

I really wasn't expecting to like this movie based on the trailers, but I did.  The characters were well written and well acted, and I thought the dialogue felt authentic.  In movies like this, the dialogue usually feels forced and the characters usually don't talk the way real people talk.  I especially liked the parents.  Mia's dad was a drummer in a punk band when he was younger, and he gave that up to raise his kids.  Her mom was a rocker chick who also settled down.  The parents could have easily been the cliched 'cool parents' but they also felt authentic.

The hospital scenes to get a big tedious at times, but there are some real powerful scenes as well.  I was especially moved by a scene towards the end when her grandpa (Stacy Keach) is talking to his comatose granddaughter.  Bring a tissue - the entire audience I saw it with was crying most of the second half of the movie.

In the wrong hands, this could have been a very tough movie to sit through, but I liked it and I would see it again.

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