Towards the end of If I stay, the latest in a long line of films adapted from popular young-adult novels, a fire alarm went off in the cinema and killed the film at a crucial moment.
After about twenty minutes it was resurrected by staff, but had it ended there and then, I can’t say I would have been too disappointed. Throughout this bore-fest, I kept thinking to myself this is really long.
A melodramatic epic, it follows the story of Mia, a budding musician with an affinity for the cello who has an out-of-body experience when she’s involved in a car crash. Essentially a ghost, she has plenty of time to reflect on her life, particularly concerning her true love. Will she chose to fight for life, or pack it in and move on to what’s next? Did I really care?
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh on If I Stay because there are a few aspects that I liked. The overall look of it is fantastic and use of music (especially classic) is effective.
There’s nothing really wrong with the performances either, and across the board everybody involved works well. The problem here lies in its story and characterisation.
Everybody is perfect in this, to the point where it’s excruciatingly annoying. You have the cool parents who say stuff like ‘dude’ and don’t bat an eyelid when their young child swears. Adam, the up and coming rock ‘n’ roll star boyfriend is kinda perfect too. Totally romantic and an obvious hit with the parents, he has abandonment issues but it’s okay because Mia will never ever leave him.
Everyone is so perfect in fact that towards the very end of the film a scene takes place where family and friends all get together and sing around a camp-fire. So vomit-inducing was this scene that I regretted staying through the fire alarm.
This made it very hard for me to invest in or relate with any of the characters, because all of the teenage angst and lovers’ tiffs pale in comparison to their exemplary lives. As well as this, the writing feels like writing, the cast having to spew out dialogue that would never be said by real people.
This said, I’m fully aware that I am not this film’s target audience. An amalgamation of romantic notions and themes, with the simple intention to tug at your heart-strings and make you cry, it will more than likely succeed with the younger demographic.
For me however, it failed to conjure any emotion and that’s a shame, because I’m not adverse to a good cry at a film. It’s not that I’m cynical when it comes to love, its just that the film fails to deliver any real emotional punch.
If I Stay is predictable, tedious and extremely grating most of the time; not even a great soundtrack and lovely photography can save it.
Image from http://www.impawards.com