Tom Basham

If I Stay

In This Just OUT on August 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm

If-I-Stay-Poster“If I Stay” is something I have thought about for the past two days, as I saw this movie on Thursday night. I still don’t know if I am coming or going.

Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz from “Carrie,” 2013) has decided not to date boys in high school and wait for college instead. The only thing she wants to wrap her arms around is her cello, until Adam (Jamie Blackley from “The Fifth Estate”) asks her out. He’s the hot guy in school, a little older and in a band – all the signs for trouble. Her response is not typical movie-teenager-like. She is afraid – not of the guy – but of the way he makes her feel, and she sees him as a ticking time bomb about to explode all over her life.

Adam does not fall for her because she is cute or quirky or because they have geometry together. It happens when he sees her play the cello. He sees her go to another place when she plays and he wants to know her. He wants to know this person who connects to music the way he does – even though her music is totally different that his. She is Beethoven and he is The Ramones. Still, it’s music and the love of great music that brings them together and somehow they find harmony.

I don’t think I have to say spoiler alert to mention that Mia and her family are in a car wreck. Even the trailer lets you know she spends most of the movie in coma. This where I usually whine about all the flashbacks and the staccato rhythm of the narrative, but I can’t. This story requires this kind of ping pong timeline and a director like R.J. Cutler (“The  Ordained”), who cares more about telling the story of two people than making a movie. His experience in documentaries serves him well as he lets the characters tell the story.

We are completely drawn into to Mia’s world as we watch her life flash before her eyes. Here we see the complete human experience with the good and the bad and the rip-your-guts-out parts. These two people follow their bliss in a musical mash-up of moments amongst an amazing supporting cast.

I did not read the book because they look at me funny when I linger in the YA section of the bookstore. My daughter/editor/mentor seemed to think the movie did well by the author’s version.

I may have to go back to see the end of this movie again. I experienced some kind of medical phenomenon known as Water Under-Eye Syndrome (WUS) and in fact I think that theater may have been where the epidemic started. For avoiding clichés and giving us one of the best portrayals of young love I have ever seen, I am giving this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. See it with someone you want to make beautiful music with.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:


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