In If I Stay, Chloe Moretz plays a talented musician on the cusp of auditioning for The Juilliard School. She’s got all the happiness that being 17 can afford, but it’s all taken away by a severe car accident that leaves her in a coma. While she hangs on the edge of death, she has an out of body experience that allows her present life (with all the threat and promise of its future) to flash literally in front of her eyes.
It shares a surface-level spiritual connection to the recent Heaven is For Real, but it more obviously resembles The Lovely Bones. Hopefully that won’t hold it back.
Check out the trailer for yourself:
The Lovely Bones is strong with this one. Sincerely. Except she’s not in Heaven.
Unfortunately, that means that it will always teeter on the edge of schmaltz. The trailer isn’t doing it any favors on that soft focus front. Everything feels so Hallmark card earnest, a teen boy talks like a slow pour Lord Byron and the bigthink life lessons come in with a hammer.
All of that is a mine field for a trailer, but the film itself could absolutely avoid those pitfalls by shaping Moretz’s character Mia as a rounded, real individual who we feel comfortable crying over ourselves. The excellent conceit with the story — adapted from the Gayle Forman novel — is that Mia isn’t only confronted with heartstring tugs, but also the difficult truths of a life she never planned on having. That’s rich ground to work with, Moretz is a veteran despite her age and the movie was directed by R.J. Cutler (who’s shown a knack in documentary filmmaking with understanding where the real core of a story lives).
So there’s a lot to be optimistic for despite a trailer that looks designed purely to sell Kleenex.
If I Stay is in theaters August 22nd.