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Movie Review

If I Stay

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.

Reviewed by: Samuel Chetty

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Fantasy Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 22, 2014 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
DVD: November 18, 2014
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros.

car accidents

death in the Bible

eternal life

eternal death

final judgment

music in the Bible

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES—Who is the being of light encountered in near-death experiences? Answer

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
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Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
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Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer

Are you going to Heaven?
Are you going to Heaven? Are you SURE you know the answer this extremely important question? Or have you made some common wrong assumptions? Find out now!

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

How good is good enough? Answer

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Featuring: Chloë Grace Moretz … Mia Hall
Mireille Enos … Kat
Jamie Blackley … Adam
Joshua Leonard … Denny
Liana Liberato … Kim
Stacy Keach … Gramps
Gabrielle Rose … Gran
Jakob Davies … Teddy
more »
Director: R.J. Cutler—“Nashville” (2012)
Producer: DiNovi Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
New Line Cinema
Distributor: Warner Bros.

“Live for love”

updated September 10, 2014

“If I Stay” is a romantic drama with an unusual concept incorporated. The main character is Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz—“Carrie” and the “Kick-Ass” films), a high school senior and a talented musician who plays classical cello and is considering a music career. Her boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley—“Snow White and the Huntsmen”) is a rock musician, which puts the two of them in different social cultures. While they have highly favorable perceptions of each other personally, uncertainty hangs over their relationship as they have to figure out whether staying together beyond high school would be socially or logistically possible given their contrasting musical pursuits.

Mia’s family has a car accident, and both her parents die shortly after arriving at the hospital. Mia survives the impact but is in a coma. She has an out-of-body experience in which she sees what is going on in the hospital and overhears conversations, but cannot interact with anyone. She realizes that she has a choice whether or not to return to life on Earth. The relationship in time (such as past, future, or in another dimension of existence) between this experience and the story of her and Adam is something I’ll let you find out yourself, if you decide to watch the movie.

The plot pacing is slow enough to ordinarily be a negative factor for me, but it actually wasn’t a problem this time. The movie was not boring, because I had to figure out time relationships between scenes and guess the ending based on hints dropped along the way. Character development is not particularly strong, but it’s present nonetheless. The movie’s appeal probably leans toward female audiences, most likely teenage and young adult. Although that is not my demographic, as a classical pianist, I found some elements of interest involving music. I thought the movie portrayed the expectations for classical musicians very well and that it accurately showed how classical and rock artists view each other’s musical traits and fans.

Although the story did not tell a strong or obvious message, there is room for individual interpretation as the story raises some questions worth discussion, such as whether dramatic, severe events are necessary for people to make major commitments. In Biblical stories, the answer seems to vary among individuals. In the story of Job, Job was committed to God all along, so his adversity was not needed for him to follow God, but was rather a test of his spiritual strength. On the other hand, in the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had to be driven away from his throne to live in the fields and eat grass for a while, in order to recognize God’s sovereignty.

My overall opinion of the movie leans positive. Where storytelling and moviemaking are concerned, I did not perceive any major weaknesses and would put this movie on the high end of average films. However, I encourage viewer discretion due to the content issues below.

Objectionable Content

Sexuality: There are two scenes of physical intimacy between Mia and Adam (one in bed) which indicate probable intercourse, though nothing explicit is shown. There is also a scene in which attention is drawn to a girl’s partially-visible cleavage as a male writes on her skin at a public event.

Language: God’s name as an interjection—approx. 15 times, Jesus’ name as an interjection—2, Mild obscenities—approx. 17.

Miscellaneous: Both the teenage and adult characters are shown drinking in multiple scenes, and the dialog has a few references to getting drunk or high, although it’s not clear if anyone actually did. There is a reference to same-sex attraction when somebody says that a female character “likes girls,” and then the two girls kiss. During an argument, Mia makes a rude remark to her father about his standards for musical proficiency.

Following the car accident, there is a short scene of a surgery in which a lot of blood is shown. For mature audiences who are okay with movies containing the aforementioned content, I don’t know of anything else in the usual moral categories that would be an issue. The story element of an out-of-body experience with the choice of whether to return to life may raise doctrinal concerns for some, but I saw nothing about the movie which suggests that Mia’s experience could happen to a real person, and she does not communicate with spirits or deities.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Negative—As someone who really enjoys teen flicks, I was really disappointed with this film. This is not average fare for movies in this genre, most of which promote abstinence, and it presents a sense of morality that many parents would not want for their teens. The only redeeming qualities are the music contained in the film, particularly the cello playing, and the acting is quite good.

My assessment of the movie afterward was that it is a movie that is tailored to teens, but is not really appropriate for them, at the same time. Most of the viewers in the theater when I saw it were teen girls. The story chronicles the story of a girl named Mia who is a Julliard bound cello player and is about 16-17 years old. She is shocked when Adam, the most popular boy in the school who is in a rock band, finds her attractive and wants to date her. Things move pretty quickly, and before you know it they are in an intimate relationship. Despite the fact that they are from different music worlds, they find common ground for a relationship. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kathy Pj, age 54 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Neutral—I enjoyed the movie, but I was disappointed that the review didn't really prepare me for all the content in the movie. There is a brief mention of homosexuality in which two girls kiss. The scenes with intimacy in it are long scenes, and you can clearly tell that they are not wearing all articles of clothing. There is language throughout. Also I don’t think it was even mentioned that there is drinking all throughout, and the parents are fine with it. The review did not prepare me for viewing this movie, and I was disappointed that I wasn’t prepared to view this content. If I had seen it with my sisters, I would have been quite angry. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kathrynne Myers, age 17 (USA)

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