Thursday, 4 September 2014

If I Stay (4 Stars)

I'm a big fan of Chloe Grace Moretz. She's best known as an action star after playing Hit-Girl in "Kick-Ass", but there's a lot more to her. Despite her young age -- she was only 16 when "If I stay" was made -- she shows a maturity in her acting abilities that actors three times her age can only envy.

Denny Hall was the drummer in a rock band in Portland, Oregon. This continued after he married and had a daughter, Mia, who was taken to all of his concerts. Mia was being programmed from birth to follow the same musical career as her father, or at least have the same taste in music, but the unthinkable happened: in school she developed a passion for classical music and began to play the cello. Her parents didn't understand her choice, and they hated the sound of the instrument, but they accepted it. Denny's band became increasingly successful, leading to concert tours throughout the USA, but he regretted being away from his daughter so much that he quit the band, sold his drum kit and used the money to buy Mia a new cello.

The whims of fate are mysterious. At school Mia, now a teenager played by Chloe Grace Moretz, meets and falls in love with Adam, an older boy who plays guitar in a rock band. When Mia goes to his concerts she enjoys the music, but she feels like an outsider in the teenage rock scene.

After dating Adam for a year Mia applies to study at Juilliard, a prestigious music school in New York, on the opposite side of the country. Unable to face a long distance relationship Adam breaks up with her. But while she is still waiting to find out if she's been accepted her family go on a trip. The car skids on an icy road. Mia's mother dies immediately, and the rest of the family are taken to hospital. Mia is in a coma, but she's still conscious, in an out-of-body experience. She watches her father and brother die in hospital. She feels that it's up to her whether she fights to recover or succumbs to death. The film follows her heart-breaking decision as she thinks back on the last few years.

Unlike "Ghost", this is not a supernatural tale of a ghost wandering around trying to communicate with the living. Mia's spirit is never far away from her body. It could even be argued that the whole film takes place in the imagination of a comatose young girl who is aware of where she is, but is unable to communicate. It doesn't really matter. The film leaves the question open, and I'm sure different viewers would have different opinions. It's a beautifully moving film.

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