Saturday, August 23, 2014
If I Stay
I don't know what I was doing at this movie. It is a teen romance/weepy and it has zero surprises to it. The lead actor is an interesting face without any detectable acting talent. The film plays like a promo for the album by the fictional band that is featured in the story and the soundtrack is full of pop music trying to pass itself off as indie-cool. Some of the dialogue in this sounds like it was directly taken from the young adult book that the film is based on and in this case it is not good. I thought "The Fault in our Stars" earlier this summer was dolorously depressing. This movie lays on the sadness with a trowel that is not subtle at all.
Ultimately, the reason I saw this is that I am a fan of Chloë Grace Moretz . As "Hit Girl" she has been one of my favorite characters in movies in the last ten years. She was great in "Hugo" and last year in "Carrie" she held her own. She is growing into a lovely young woman, and that probably makes me sound like a dirty old man but it's not like that. I think she is talented and I hope she has a successful career. She is very good in this movie but the material does feel far below her. This movie is made for young girls to fantasize and cry over and from what I heard in the theater, it appears to work for them.
A high school girl, who feels awkward and a bit of an outsider, has a loving relationship with her parents, falls for a mysterious guy from the Northwest, and has to make a life or death decision for herself. Take out the sparkling vampires and that is essentially what this movie is. Instead of deciding if she wants to live forever as a blood sucker, she has to choose whether to go into the light and stop living all together. There are so many teen novel cliches in this story that it might have been assembled by a computer program. The boy is an aspiring musician/rock star, she is a cellist thinking of applying to Julliard, her parents are former punk rockers living the middle class life but carrying a torch for the Clash. Oh, and it all takes place in Portland which apparently has not had a sunny day in the last twenty years. Every party is fantastic and nothing is unusual about all of the people at the party breaking out in singing an indie type song that mirrors some of the emotions the central character is going through.
I can't really give away more spoilers than the trailer does. All that she knows is taken away in an instant and she lingers in the hospital as a spirit that has to choose whether the bliss of heaven is more inviting than the burgeoning rock star that pines over her. The few moments that actually did move me are provided by veteran actor Stacey Keach. He was terrific as the unpleasant friend from the old neighborhood last year in "Nebraska". He plays Chloe's Gramps in the movie and he has a pretty emotional scene in the hospital room with her but an even better one in a flashback scene when he brings her back home from her audition for Julliard. His line delivery in the truck was excellent and it was one of the few moments when the movie reaches the kinds of emotions that it is striving for.
Chloë Grace Moretz will go on to better things and this morose music will never assault my ears again. I'm not sure what the young actor in the film will do, to paraphrase the Mom in this movie he'll either get better or disappear.