"doesn’t seamlessly flow from page to screen, subtle performances help stop this teen mortality tale from flat lining"

With the overwhelming global success of The Fault In Our Stars back in mid-June, the end of August and summer sees Gayle Forman’s popular YA mortality based novel adapted for the silver screen.

The swiftly rising teen star Chloe Grace Moretz plays timid Mia Hall, a cello prodigy whose ultimate dream is to attend the prestigious Juilliard. Considering Moretz’s illustrious career so far and the extensive range of colourful characters (Hit-Girl, Carrie) already under her young yet experienced belt, Mia is by far the most ‘ordinary’ character portrayed by Moretz to date. 

Mia is a studious and introverted student with a lifelong passion for classical music with Bach and Beethoven being particular favourites; her orderly world suddenly collides with the opposite end of the musical spectrum in the form of Adam (Jamie Blackley) the lead singer of a mildly famous rock band in her hometown of Oregon. Adam resonates with Mia’s own past as her parents (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) once lead the rock and roll lifestyle with Mia’s early childhood being spent mostly on the road.

On a beautiful yet blustery snow day the whole family including Mia’s younger brother Teddy (Jakob Davies) head out on a car journey that has fatal consequences. Mia awakes to find herself looking down at her own unconscious body, invisible to the emergency workers around her and unsure about the rest of her family’s condition, Mia in the midst of an out of body experience and follows herself back to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Director R. J. Cutler (The September Issue) cuts back and forth between flashbacks of Adam’s and Mia’s unfolding romance combined with their musical ambition, and Mia pacing around the clinical hospital corridors wrestling with her conscious and the messages from her loved ones on deciding whether to let go of the pain and grief or return to her living yet fractured family.

Whilst a clichéd bright white light, frantically endless running up and down of hospital corridors, and bland voiceovers makes If I Stay seem somewhat clunky at times, the understated family scenes brings back the emotional depth which is lacking at times.

Verdict - Whilst If I Stay doesn’t seamlessly flow from page to screen, subtle performances help stop this teen mortality tale from flat lining.