We’re back, just as I was beginning to forget what a bad movie actually was, R.J. Cutler bombs the red carpet with “If I Stay”. A movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz where one thing happens that is worthy of note. The plot is just about there enough that it could have flourished as one of those short films they show before a Pixar movie, but I guess a movie where most of the cast is comatose throughout wasn’t a hit with younger audiences. “I have it!”, says R.J. Cutler, “You know what this depressing plot needs? An equally depressing run time” and so from the depths of the malignant Hollywood money barrel comes “If I Stay”. The latest film about comas that accomplishes the esteemed and highly sought after achievement of making you envy the Sleeping Beauty played by Moretz herself.
I have a lot to say and more coma puns should be made but I don’t wish for anyone to lose consciousness (damnit) while I try to be upset on the internet. I’m about to let you in on some of the plot so don’t worry this won’t take long. Mia (played by Moretz) is obsessed with her Cello and has recently auditioned for a place at Julliard, however on a trip with her family they manage to crash and all four end up hanging on for their lives. We follow Mia around as she has an out of body experience of sorts, and she essentially has to decide whether she wants to stay in this world or not.
That’s it. The movie tries to fool you into thinking there is any reason for Mia not to want to crawl back into her own body but there isn’t. Honestly she has had a pretty perfect life up until this point, the only problems she has had are to do with the fact she might have to leave her new boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley). As she has literally no reason to leave her life because its pretty fantastic, almost the entire movie becomes pointless because you know she will step back in, and jeez does it feel like it.
Moretz herself unfortunately gives a fairly weak performance where she should have been the crutch of the film, the girl clearly has talent after all. Jamie Blackley is the same old soppy unbearable “hearthrob” we are expected to like because he can do his hair good and wear nice clothes. Everyone else does a fine job but the concept of a stand out performance is alien to “If I Stay”.
Mia being in her state makes for a fairly dull affair — though I imagine Kubrick could have pulled it off, that’s beside the point — so R.J tells the story almost entirely through flashbacks that I suppose are designed to make us root for the horizontal heroine. I didn’t, they just made me question exactly what reason she had for not picking up the reins again but sure, I guess we need the film to be long enough to be considered a film don’t we.
The single biggest problem with “If I stay” is that the main plot device isn’t the least bit interesting. There should be a conflict, an actual legitimate reason for her to not want to live. Then maybe we might question whether she would want to go back. The concept of the film honestly makes no sense given the situation of the character and I’m baffled that anyone would think it was a good idea to make a movie out of it. Apparently it’s based on a novel too, so I don’t know how that turned out but I doubt that is all that interesting either if this is anything to go by.
“If I Stay” feels like such a waste of time to the extent that I get more and more upset just thinking about it, completely unremarkable in every single way and made me (insert coma joke here). If watching the film and asked if YOU should stay, I tactfully suggest you do not.