Talented cellist, Mia, is full of life and waiting to hear if she has got a place at a prestigious music college. When she is put into a coma following a tragic car accident involving her whole family, she has an out-of-body experience as she sees everything that is happening around her. Remembering important moments of her life, most of which include the love of her life, Adam, she realises that whether she survives is up to her. Can the people who love her persuade her to stay or will her grief and pain be too much for her to bear?
If I Stay (2014) – Director: R.J. Cutler
Running Length: 107 mins
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos
Genre: Romance, Drama
Based on the Gayle Forman novel of the same name, ‘If I Stay’ stars Chloë Grace Moretz, who, in taking a break from the very different role of Hit Girl in the ultraviolent ‘Kick Ass’ movies, shows that she is perfectly capable of playing the part of a teenage girl in love. While no fresh ground is broken in this story of love, loss and drama, the characters are all well-rounded, likeable, and above all believable; their motivations have the all important relatable factor, key to engaging characters.
The romance between Mia and Adam is a bit cliché; the handsome musician sweeping the unsure and unusual girl off her feet but as they are both likeable and confident individuals, there is little teenage angst. The arguments they have are understandable and their relationship is long enough to make the bond between them feel like a genuine connection. Mia’s laid-back rocker parents (played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard), who (unusually for a teen movie) are loving and supportive; help to provide a brilliant soundtrack of classic tunes that everyone can enjoy.
While a teenage romance may not be to everyone’s taste and ‘If I Stay’ does not try to remove itself from this genre, this movie is a good example of this type of story. So, grab some popcorn, keep the tissues handy and settle in for a comfortable and enjoyable movie.
IS ‘IF I STAY’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
From the beginning, the movie establishes that Mia’s parents are very laid back and think nothing of using moderate curse words in front of their kids. They also make a joke about ‘crack’ and speed’ when talking to their 8-year-old son, Teddy. Teddy and Mia use moderately bad language throughout the movie.
The car crash is handled very sensitively; a wheel screeches on the road and there s a brief one to two second shot of the family as they look shocked. The camera cuts to a distant shot of a plume of mist, smoke and snow floating above the tree line. The injuries are not overly graphic and only a small amount of blood is seen. A body bag is closed up but it is not made clear who has died until later in the movie. When Mia’s physical body is taken to the hospital, surgeons rush to operate on her as she lies unconscious and some blood can be seen on the instruments that the surgeons are using.
Mia and Adam’s relationship becomes physical after they have been together for a while. When Mia makes it clear to him that she is ready to take this next step, he takes her to a place where he obviously spends a lot of time. They undress each other than the camera cuts to a while later and Adam lies on top of Mia; they are both obviously naked but nothing explicit is shown. This physical intimacy is very well handled, both Mia and Adam are fully consenting and neither rushes into anything. Later in the movie, Adam sneaks into Mia’s room (which he has been seen to do many times before). They are then seen lying in bed together and although the sheets cover them, it is clear that they are naked beneath.
When Mia learns that members of her family have died, she is devastated. She thinks back to special moments that she has shared with them and at one point falls to her knees and screams in anguish. These moments are very emotional but do not last too long.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
A great example of the ‘teen romance’ genre, ‘If I Stay’ sensitively handles love and grief in equal measure. While it may not be everyone’s preference, those who do enjoy movies like this are unlikely to be disappointed. Due to the adult themes of family loss and physical intimacy between teenagers, we feel that this movie should be suitable for most kids aged 11 and over.
- Violence: 0/5
- Emotional Distress: 4/5
- Fear Factor: 0/5
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (one character says that guys play music ‘to get laid’. A girl asks Adam to sign her breast. A lesbian kiss is seen from a distance and it is made clear that the two teen girls are in a serious and committed relationship although this is barely mentioned again. The majority of younger viewers watching should be old enough to understand that open same-sex relationships are a part of life so should not be confused by what they are seeing)
- Bad Language: 3/5 (frequent mild and moderate cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (some sarcastic comments, for example ‘I’m about ready to stab my eyeballs out’)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of intense but mature teenage relationships, sudden family death and that following your dreams may take you away from the people you love.
Words by Laura Record