ANTONY SMITH 

If I Stay is a bittersweet, existential romance based on the book by Gayle Forman, directed by R.J. Cutler. Chloë Grace Moretz takes the lead as Mia Hall; a young and self-effacing musical progeny who has been gifted from a very young age with the mesmerising ability to play the cello. On one fateful day, a tragic car crash leaves Mia in a coma, propelling her into a disorientating, soul searching out-of-body experience. As she hovers in her invisible autoscopic state, Mia is left to contemplate if she should fight to stay and wake up or if it is her time to pass on. We follow Mia’s lonely ethereal freedom and are transported back in time through flashbacks of her childhood. And as we learn more about Mia, we come to understand the importance of music and the pivotal role it has in her life.

 Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project) and Mireille Enos (TV's The Killing) play Mia's supportive music loving parents Denny and Kat. However, while Mia prefers to blare the oeuvre of Beethoven from her iPod and has a shrine in her school locker to the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the diverse musical taste brings them together as a close-knit family. And it is this special bond and uniqueness that attracts Adam (Jamie Blackley); Mia's boyfriend to the ecclectic mix. Nevertheless, sticking with the core theme of music in If I Stay, Mia and Adam's career prospects prove to be detrimental to their relationship as his band 'Willamette Stone' (renamed from Blackley's actual band 'Shooting Star' for the film) is signed, taking him on tour while Mia is eyeing up a place at Julliard.

Even though If I Stay received mixed reviews, there are some great performances from Enos and a particularly touching scene with Mia's grandfather (Stacy Keach) as he maintains a hopeful beside vigil. And with such films as The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Boyhood using music as an important element of the story, If I Stay epitomises how fundamental song is to the essence of life. 

3/5