By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
If I Stay has the unique combination of being a non-indie film featuring a range of notable actors while remaining a low-budget film made primarily in Vancouver. Based on a young-adult novel by Gayle Foreman and featuring stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Mirielle Enos (The Killing), the film also featured some local Vancouver actors and musicians. Being shot entirely around the city, many noticeable features of the Lower Mainland can be spotted by a native.
The plot revolves around Mia Hall, a talented cellist who takes a car trip on a snowy day with her equally musical family. A brutal car accident leaves Mia in an out-of-body experience, and the film follows her throughout the day in the hospital as she agonizes over whether or not to stay on Earth. Throughout the film, there are flashbacks of Mia’s life and her relationship with rising rock star Adam Wilde (Jamie Blackley).
Local musician Tom Vanderkam, singer of the math rock group Tommy Alto, portrayed a member of Adam’s band in the movie along with other local musicians.
To him, the set atmosphere was “super friendly. The band all got super close with the cast. They’re super real and down-to-earth people you can connect with on a level far deeper than what one might expect as a regular person talking to a celebrity.”
He further praised the organization of filming, saying, “I thought it was cool how amazingly orchestrated everything was. You’ve got 400 crew members all working towards a common goal in perfect harmony.”
Although the plot has no shortage of drama, emotion, or romance, it ultimately falls a bit short in being memorable or extraordinary. All of the actors deliver fine performances, and the slightly supernatural concept is original and interesting; however, the film focusses a bit too much on melodrama and typical teen angst/romance, with significant pacing problems in Adam and Mia’s relationship development. It led to some very boring scenes in which I questioned whether anything had actually occurred in the last 15 minutes.
Despite these flaws, If I Stay is a well-crafted production for what its worth. It will no doubt appeal to its target audience of young adults who love drama and romance.