Netflix recently updated their movie archive with teen heartbreaker “If I Stay,” which hit theaters back in August of 2014. Starring Chloe Grace Mortez as musically talented Mia Hall, the film follows her journey after a tragic car accident in the form of flashbacks and activity in her comatose brain.
Based on a novel of the same name, written by Gayle Forman, “If I Stay” as a film is a corny—but just as saddening—resemblance to recent teen blockbusters like “The Fault in Our Stars” or “The Best of Me.” It feels like another tragic Nicholas Sparks love story, but refreshingly does not draw from the same cliché casting pool.
The plot bounces between flashbacks and the present with clarity but without smooth transitions, and character development only manifests itself in our unconscious protagonist. Mia experiences events after the car accident as a ghost-like spirit. She maintains her physical form and she isn’t translucent, but she is somehow able to be omnipresent as she wanders around the hospital to check in on her family and mourning friends. You’re able to see her family dynamic, chaotic romantic life, and talent on the cello all through flashbacks.
Of course, the love interest, Adam (Jamie Blackley), is a running theme throughout the film as you watch the relationship’s beginnings, highs, lows, endings, and potential rekindling. While predictable, it is portrayed well and not completely teenage Hollywood-esque.
The overarching question throughout the movie is whether Mia will elect to give up and succumb to death in the midst of the trauma surrounding her family’s fate or will herself to live for a second chance at life. Again, her decision will not surprise you.
A chick-flick to the core, “If I Stay” will require a box of tissues and two hours to check out from reality.
Rated PG-13 for some language and mature material.