Moretz plays Mia Hall, an introverted high school student, who prefers to play her cello and listen to Beethoven, than go out and party like the rest of her peers. That is until she meets rockstar Adam (Jamie Blackley), who opens her eyes (and ears) to a whole new world, where she blossoms, and as a result, becomes closer entwined with her nonconformist parents, Kat (Mireille Enos) and Denny (Joshua Leonard). However her exultation is short-lived, after she’s involved in a savage car accident that sends her into a coma. During an out of body experience she is able to analyse her own existence, and decide if she ever wants to wake up.
It’s genuinely quite incredible to know films such as If I Stay are still being made, as a picture that is so overwhelmed by its mawkish tendencies that it becomes unbearable to sit through. Even before the supposedly poignant elements that come with the car crash, this picture is romantically insufferable, as such a hackneyed production that seems outdated in a contemporary environment, as this genre has been efficiently deconstructed elsewhere. Not to mention the contrived parent banter that exists, which seems to have taken pointers from the likes of Easy A, yet that worked because the script was good. This screenplay, to be frank, is wildly disappointing. We also have to contend with Cutler’s forced implementing of his ‘cool’ music tastes on the viewer, as similarly to Juno in that regard, this picture is full to the brim of references to trendy bands. We get it, you like good music.
It’s a shame as the premise itself is somewhat unique and mature, with much to be admired about analysing one’s mortality in a picture aimed at an impressionable, younger crowd, while the severity of such themes are counteracted intriguingly by a soft-focus aesthetic, adding a touch of surrealism to proceedings. However such creativity in that regard is undone and undermined by the frustrating inclination to stick so closely to formula, as one of the most nauseating, unashamed romantic dramas you’ll have seen in a long, long time. There’s only so much whispering of sweet nothings between our protagonists on random rooftops, before you question whether this is in fact a parody. Alas, and quite remarkably, it isn’t.