Christa and I have time to kill at the moment (always a dangerous thing), so we’ve decided to make the next couple of weeks about whatever we want them to be. To borrow (steal) from Christa, it’s Free For All Fortnight, aka Blog Free Or Die Hard, aka I must always have 1,000 alternate titles for everything we do. Christa’s kicking off this limited edition of the collab with If I Stay. Check out her review here.
If I Stay
Where to Watch:
According to Netflix, “A promising cellist. A tragic car crash. A choice to pursue her dreams or to follow the white light that beckons.”
The Uncondensed Version:
I don’t think there’s any way to hold back my annoyance with this film, so let’s just be up front about it, shall we?
One of the first things our protagonist/narrator says is “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon’s biggest regret was that he ever uttered those words. Our quote/narration/every damn thing about this movie sets up the choice Mia will have to make about (spoiler alert) whether to live or die (that can’t seriously be a spoiler, though, right? Even if you never saw any of the promos for this film, surely you can guess this movie is about more than whether Mia should stay at a party or go home and watch Netflix [always choose Netflix, Mia]).
The structure of the film alternates between the life Mia had before the car accident that leaves her in a coma and the aftermath that determines whether she decides to live.
Let’s take a look at reasons Mia has to live:
- Adoring family, made up of former punk rocker parents, little brother, grandparents, and various punk friends of Mia’s parents
- Love of the cello, classical music, and possible Juilliard acceptance
- Rocker boyfriend, Adam, who is, according to Mia, soooooooooooooooooooooooo out of her league
And reasons to give up:
- Family decimated by car crash
- Even if accepted to Juilliard, most likely career path is performing on subway cars
- Adam = douche
I’m sorry, but we have to talk about Adam. Partly because he’s vitally important to the plot but mostly because I just fucking hate him. Adam takes an interest in Mia even though she’s a quiet cellist and he’s the lead singer/guitarist of a (high school) rock band and “already was somebody.”
So Adam and Mia date and fall in love and have sex in a shed, which looks way more comfortable/romantic than it would be in real life. Adam is so smooth and utters such classic lines as “The you you are now is the same you I’m in love with.” (WHAT?) However, obstacles abound when Adam’s rock career takes off and he’s…still dating a high school student. (They can make it work, you might think optimistically. CLING TO YOUR FANTASIES, YOU NAÏVE FOOL.) Meanwhile, Mia keeps her Juilliard audition to herself as acceptance to the school would put 3,000 miles between the two. When Adam hears about the audition, he handles it really well by agreeing to a sudden week-long tour. Apparently he wants to be a rock star without ever having to leave Portland. Dude, have you never heard of concert tours? Fuck this guy, Mia. This is a toxic relationship if he can’t be happy for your successes.
Since he’s manipulative as fuck and can’t handle Mia having her own autonomy, Adam breaks up with her and says they can’t do long-distance because it’s like dating a ghost. Honestly, a movie about a long-distance relationship with an actual ghost would’ve been much more interesting than this film.
So Mia and Adam do this aggravating on-again/off-again thing forever. The first time they make up, Adam apologizes by putting up images in her room of the ceiling where she’ll be doing her Juilliard audition WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE OR PERMISSION. He also gives her a cello/guitar bracelet and rather condescendingly asks “Do you get it?”
NO, ADAM, FUCKING EXPLAIN IT TO ME.
This is reasonably spoiler-y, but IDGAF. If you still want to watch this movie after reading my review and Christa’s review, I feel sorry for you. Based on the structure of this film, I couldn’t help thinking that Mia had to basically trade almost every member of her family to be with Adam. Mia needs a t-shirt that reads “My entire family died in a car crash, and all I got was this stupid boyfriend.” The worst part is I didn’t even care about Mia and her suffering because everyone in this film was so bland. I got a teensy bit emotional during a scene between Mia and her crusty grandfather (played by Stacy Keach?!?!). All other bits of this movie made me feel I have a heart of stone.
Basically every 10 mins I thought, “Is this over yet?” and/or “Why am I not watching Save the Last Dance?” or “Why isn’t Save the Last Dance on Netflix???” Also about a high school girl trying to get in to Juilliard while dating a guy whose musical tastes are considered too mainstream. However, Sean Patrick Thomas was super adorable and supportive, unlike stupid Adam.
One positive thing about this film: how ridiculously composed Chloë Grace Moretz is. She was maybe 16 or 17 during the filming of this movie but brings a maturity to the role that I’m not 100% sure I have.
Tempted to go 1/5, but the last film I can remember giving that rating to was Gummo, and at least no cats died in the events of this film.
I feel watching We Are the Best! again would have been more entertaining and true to the spirit of punk.
EDIT: GUYS, THERE WAS A SAVE THE LAST DANCE 2(?!?!?!?!). I suppose they couldn’t retroactively change the original film’s title to Save the Penultimate Dance.