tek's rating:

if i stay (PG-13)
20th Century Studios; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

This came out in 2014, but I didn't see it until 2023. It's based on a 2009 novel, which I haven't read. The movie did fairly well financially, but not so much critically, which I don't really understand. I thought it was really good. According to Wikipedia, one reviewer said it was "more manipulative than moving", but I disagree. I was moved. (I mean, I'd say any movie that moves you is manipulative, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing, if it works well. And I felt like it worked really well, here.) I want to say, I've decided to list the movie under both "drama" and "romantic" because I feel like those two aspects are equally important to the plot. (It's a tough call to make, because with a lot of the romantic movies I watch, there's a lot of drama that is independent of the romance, but I usually choose just one category for those films.) It also has a vaguely supernatural aspect, but that's more sort of part and parcel of the drama.

Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a high schooler who is a very talented cello player. The movie alternate between scenes set in the present and the events of the past year and a half. In the present, Mia is waiting for a letter that will let her know whether or not she has been accepted to Julliard. When school is cancelled for a snow day, Mia and her parents, Denny and Kat, and little brother, Teddy, go out for a drive. They get into a car crash, and Mia wakes up outside her comatose body. She and the rest of her family are taken to the hospital, and Mia watches everything that goes on. In the past, she meets an older boy named Adam Wilde, who is in a rock band that becomes increasingly successful throughout the flashbacks. The two of them begin dating, and fall in love. But they get into an argument when Adam finds out Mia applied to Julliard without telling him, since it's on the other side of the country, and he doubts a long distance relationship could work. Despite this bump in their relationship, they remain in love, and after the car crash, Adam goes to the hospital to be close to Mia.

I'm not sure how much else I can say without spoiling anything. There are various other characters who I should probably mention, like Mia's grandfather, George (Stacy Keach), and her best friend, Kim, and... there's a nurse who tells Mia (or at least tells her body, but Mia's spirit hears her) that whether she lives or dies is up to her. With Mia's whole life unraveling into tragedy, it's unclear whether or not she will ultimately decide to live. Other than that... I wanted to say it feels kind of strange to me just how demanding the requirements are to get into a school like Julliard. I mean, I understand having high standards, but it's like applicants have to be so talented before they get in that I wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between the the skill level of an applicant and a graduate. But anyway... I really liked all the major characters in the story. I liked the romance between Mia and Adam. I liked the relationship between Mia and her parents, who are pretty cool. (Her dad used to be in a rock band, himself.) And I liked how the movie made it feel, to me at least, like either choice Mia might make, life or death, would be pretty much equally understandable. I won't say what she ultimately chooses, and I think I would have liked the movie equally much either way. But I can certainly understand other viewers feeling differently about that.

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