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If I Stay

Teenage first love often feels like a matter of life and death. That’s especially true for Portland, Oregon, high-schooler Mia (Kick-Ass’s Chloë Grace Moretz). This adaptation of Gayle Forman’s YA novel follows a studious classical cellist as her budding relationship with rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley) hangs in the balance after a family car crash puts Mia in a coma. Serial flashbacks inscribe a surprisingly engrossing teen romance. That leaves the rest of the movie struggling to wring feeling from Mia’s out-of-body POV, as our stricken heroine witnesses the postaccident reactions of friends and loved ones and finally decides if she wants to live on.

For a drama pretty much aimed at 12-year-old girls, it’s less superficial than you’d expect. Veteran doc maker R.J. Cutler (1996’s A Perfect Candidate) approaches adolescent growing pains and looming independence with seriousness. The plot’s dreaded hand of fate proves almost too heavy-handed, highlighting the acting limitations of likable Moretz and Blackley. But caring grandpa Stacy Keach brings genuine feeling to a movie that, while solidly done, falls slightly short of a full-on cry.

Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Friday August 22 2014
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: R.J. Cutler
Screenwriter: Shauna Cross
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz
Mireille Enos
Liana Liberato
Jamie Blackley
Stacy Keach
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