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If I Stay


Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach, Liana Liberato, Jakob Davies, Gabrielle Rose, Lauren Lee Smith

Director: R J Cutler

Although much of this five-handkerchief weepie is slow and boring, there are occasions when it springs to life. And, in spite of its faults, it will make you cry: the cinema was awash with tears at the end of the preview screening.

It's narrated by a 17-year-old girl hovering between life and death after a car crash in which her parents were killed and her younger brother severely injured.

She looks back on her past life: Mia (Moretz), the teenage child of a loving if slightly unconventional family - her father (Leonard) was for years drummer in a rock band - has played the cello since she was six. She's now so proficient that she applies for a scholarship at Juilliard. By this time, she also has a boyfriend in Adam (Brit Blackley with a decent American accent if somewhat vapid performance), singer and guitarist with a rock band.

That's really all there is to the story, but it has a couple of outstanding scenes: one when the family and their friends gather round a bonfire for Halloween and Mia's cello blends with Adam's guitar, and the other as Mia performs her audition for Juilliard: Moretz really nails this sequence with previously unseen intensity as she almost becomes part of her instrument, from which the music soars.

Liberato (best friend) and Keach (grandfather) add to the flood of tears with impassioned speeches begging Mia to pull through. Her out-of-body narration doesn't really work, however, since, if she recovers, she will presumably have no knowledge of the deaths of her family: a traumatic awakening that will lead who knows where.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Warners Brothers (New Line/MGM). Colour (unspecified).
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 Aug 2014