First love always feels like a matter of life and death. But it really is for Portland teenager Mia (Chloë Moretz, Hit Girl in ‘Kick-Ass’) in this adaptation of Gayle Forman’s bestselling young-adult novel. We find the budding classical cellist as her relationship with rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley) hangs in the balance. Not only are their musical pathways diverging, but when a family car crash leaves Mia in a coma, her very future is uncertain.
Flashbacks to their romance are surprisingly engrossing, leaving the rest of the movie struggling to wring even more feeling from Mia’s out-of-body POV. Our stricken heroine witnesses the post-smash reactions of friends and loved ones, before finally deciding whether she wants to live or not.
For a drama pretty much aimed at 12-year-old girls, this is less superficial than you’d expect. Veteran doc-maker RJ Cutler approaches teenage growing pains and looming independence with due seriousness. Adding the life-or-death device almost seems a bit much (especially with a celestial glow hanging over everything), highlighting the acting limitations of Moretz and Blackley as they try to move up through the emotional gears. Caring grandpa Stacy Keach brings genuine feeling to a movie which, while solidly done, falls slightly short of full-on blubfest. Trevor Johnston