If I Stay Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos. Directed by R.J. Cutler. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
After taking on the title role in the underrated remake of Carrie, Chloë Grace Moretz plays a different sort of supernaturally affected teen in If I Stay. Moretz’s Mia Hall is a straight-arrow cello prodigy with implausibly hip, relatable parents and a sensitive rocker boyfriend, until her life is shattered by a car accident in the first few minutes of the movie. With her body in a coma following the accident, Mia’s spirit wanders the hospital, witnesses the grief of her friends and family, and has carefully timed flashbacks to her dull romance with the aforementioned rocker, Adam (Jamie Blackley).
Based on the popular novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay uses its flimsy supernatural premise as framework for a lackluster romance, with two talented, thoughtful teenagers falling in love easily and predictably. Moretz has grown into a compelling lead performer, but Blackley is less charismatic. The obstacles in their love story are minimal, especially compared to Mia’s struggle to survive, which is set up as a spiritual choice only she can make. Aside from hokey “go into the light” moments, director R.J. Cutler presents Mia’s life in both purgatory and the real world with flat TV-movie sameness. Stay or go, it’s hard to care either way.