A young woman has to decide between life and death after a terrible accident.
If I Stay is a film which presents a young woman (that's Chloe Grace Moretz) on the brink of death, hovering around her ailing body as she flits through events in her life and tries to decide whether its worth the struggle of returning.If the potential sappiness of that set up makes you feel at all uncomfortable then you've probably already decided to hate the film but if you give it a chance you might be surprised by the results.
It's based on a young adult novel (yes another one) by Gayle Forman which was published in 2009. It's well regarded, especially by folks who value weeping, and it seems like the transition has been more or less faithful.
As for the film itself, it's all fairly by the numbers. There's a girl and a boy (Jamie Blackley) and they're young and in love when tragedy strikes. The out of body thing has been done before and even the non-linear narrative can't help but feel a little tired.
That it still manages to work at all is mostly down to Moretz. She's been playing wise beyond her years for ages now but finally seems to be suited to a older teen role - probably because she's finally actually 17. Some of her more stilted habits have started to fade and she's got a good mix of serious and even a mild sense of humour here.
She ties it all together but there's plenty of help from elsewhere, particularly rocker parents Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard. Brit Blackley seems a bit more ill at ease and honestly shares far too many chemistry-free scenes with Moretz for me to really buy the drama.
But I'm far from the age or gender profile of this film and I still managed to mostly enjoy it. There's plenty of decent music on the soundtrack and Blackley performs some numbers with a made up movie band that sounded fairly dull to me but might hugely excite tween girls.
Ultimately, If I Stay knows full well who its audience is and manages to be amiable enough company for the rest of us. It lacks the spark of something like The Fault in Our Stars but if you're looking to squeeze out some tears of a Friday night, you could do far worse.