If I Stay Movie Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I'm a little late in seeing this movie, mostly because I just never got around to a theater to see it. If I Stay is based off of the novel by Gayle Forman. Unfortunately, I haven't read the book, so I won't be able to compare the two. It'll solely just be my initial thoughts from seeing the movie.

If I Stay is about a girl named Mia, a cellist prodigy and lover of classical music. Her whole life revolves around music. It runs in her blood. Her dad was in a rock band, and her whole family adores music. Even her boyfriend's a music buff as well. But when a car crash alters her entire world, she'll have to make the choice to leave or to stay and change her life forever.

(NOTE: This review is spoiler-free! Yay! Also, I'd meant to put this post up in November, but somehow it got buried and I just rediscovered the post like a majestic treasure hunter. Huzzah?)

The Good:

I thought most of the actors in this movie did really well. The girl who played Mia did a nice job with bringing her character to life and putting her spin into things. I liked how she used her voice to portray her emotions in different scenes, because sometimes actors tend to fall back on the monotone aspect too much. I also really loved watching the way her parents interacted. They were just so comfortable with each other and they would joke around in a way that just made me smile because you could tell that their characters just loved each other so much.

There was also one actor, I not sure who it was, but he played Mia's grandfather in the film, and he was just so, so amazing during one part. It's a scene in the hospital, and while he's not a major part of the movie, he had a line that was just so meaningful. You could tell that his heart was being put into that line, and I honestly teared up a little bit.

The Bad:

Yikes. Here we go.

First things first, I have to put Mia's boyfriend on this list. He's supposed to be a bad boy rocker type, and I absolutely hated it. He wasn't mysterious, and he certainly wasn't worth everything that he put Mia through. His character just felt so fake to me, and I couldn't take him seriously. He just seemed like a pushover guy. Sure, his character would always come back and make her swoon with cheap, romantic nonsense, but I felt like the boyfriend character was portrayed in a way that made their whole relationship not feel like it had any depth.

Speaking of adding depth and feeling real, the entire movie never felt like it came to life for me. Although Mia's character did well to be present, I never felt like she was doing more than acting. Some scenes where she's having a lot of grief, it felt forced. A lot of the emotions present in the movie seemed like people acting their way through things, instead of actually going through them. The few times that it did seem like the real deal, it was quickly whisked away with more fakeness.

I also just didn't feel like many of the characters had a solid motivation. Some people, like Mia's grandpa, just want Mia to fight to live only if she truly wants to. Her grandfather knows that it's her choice, and that her life will be a hectic mess if she chooses that hard road. However, people like Mia's boyfriend lack a true motivation. And even in the end, when Mia makes her choice, it feels like she's making a choice based off of fleeting emotions instead of solid morals.

The story telling in this movie was a little hard to follow at times. The entire movie is basically composed of flashbacks entertained with hospital scenes. Yay. That being said, it felt like there wasn't much stuff in the present to be rooting for. I felt like I was just watching something that happened to her in the past, stuff that couldn't be changed now. It made for little suspense and everything had a glazed feeling to it that made it hard to be engaged.

The Ugly:

There is one scene in this movie where things get pretty sketchy. Sure, I'm not usually bothered by some people sucking each other's faces in a movie, but Mia and her boyfriend take it a level farther than that, if you catch my drift. And while this kind of thing isn't usually a problem if it's kept on the down low, this scene was a little too much for me. It wasn't that it was too revealing, it was mostly just the fact that Mia's known this guy for basically a few weeks, and she already feels like it's "love". Please.

I disliked this scene in particular, because it was just too much too soon. Also, it's not appropriate for younger preteens to see.

Final Thoughts:

I give this film 2 stars out of 5. The entire movie just felt so fake and forced to me, that I never lost myself in it. If a movie is good enough, then I can be whisked away in a heartbeat. I had to constantly force myself to pay attention, and the story wasn't told in a way that got me engaged and in suspense.

While some parts of the movie made me smile and some actors played their parts well, I felt like there was just too many other parts that overshadowed those. There were too many times when I felt like the main characters weren't on their A game and some scenes were just too much. Also, Mia's end decision to stay or to leave made me very angry, just because she wasn't basing her decision on something solid, and that made me dislike her character a lot.

So yes, while If I Stay has some positive aspects and challenges people to think about what they'd do if something like this happened to them, it also has some inappropriate and fake-feeling scenes that made it not enjoyable to watch.

That is all.


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