Friday, August 22, 2014

"If I Stay": a love story between two musicians, through the recollection of a near death experience after an auto accident

If I Stay” (directed by R. J Cutler) has two stories, in parallel, both significant.

Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a gifted teen cellist, who learned the gift ogf music early in in a loving family in Portland, OR.  Dad (Joshua Leonard) is an English teacher. (My own father used to ask, why would a “man” want to teach English?)   As the movie opens, she says that Beethoven went deaf at 26 and became a composer, although actually Beethoven had composed a lot already.  He noticed his hearing loss while composing the Second Symphony.
She meets a boy friend, Adam (lanky British actor Jamie Blackley, who -- in both looks and body language -- rather resembles Reid Ewing, speaking “American” here), who writes songs and plays in a boy band, and is a very nice kid.  Mia gets invited to audition for Julliard at a studio in San Francisco (the school is in NYC).  There is an episode where Adam gets jealous when she hasn’t told him immediately about the audition.  I thought about the entire WB series “Everwood”, where Gregory Smith played a gifted piano prodigy being raised by a single widower dad in Colorado with a sister, and who skips a Julliard audition because of a conflict with his dad over his keeping a pregnancy he caused away from him.  Maybe this movie will provide some closure for “Everwood”, I thought.  She actually makes the audition and plays the Saint-Seans Cello Concerto.   (The Beethoven Cello Sonata #3 is used in the score, too.)
The other story is the family tragedy.  Twenty minutes into the movie, the family gets almost wiped out when an oncoming panel truck loses control on snowy roads and collides head on.  Her parents and little brother die, and she lies in a coma.  He immediately starts an out-of-body (or near-death) experience watching her care, and begins to reignite her love for Adam, despite the fight, as she watches him desperately try to be at her side.  Most of their love story and the audition sequence is told in flashbacks from the OBE.  She has to face the fact that “If I Stay” I may be a paraplegic.  Toward the end, the light of heaven appears, as Adam presents her letter of acceptance into Juilliard.
The official site is here.  The film is a welcome collaboration of New Line Cinema and MGM, which is trying to become reborn itself.
I saw the film at Regal Ballston, in a small auditorium.  There was a fair Friday afternoon gathering. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Portland with snow. The film was actually shot in Vancouver, with just some shots of downtown Portland.  

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