Author Gayle Forman certainly chose wisely to have director R.J. Cutler helm the film adaptation of her novel If I Stay. And when it was first bought by Hollywood, Forman has said that she wished Chloe Grace Moretz was older because she would be perfect to play Mia.
Well, the stars aligned. It took a couple of years to get the film off the ground and now, the young star is old enough.
Moretz is a revelation as Mia and manages to score her first adult-ish role of her young career. We agree with the woman who knows Mia better than anyone, the writer who created her, Moretz is perfect to play Mia.
Mia and Moretz share something in common and that is they both discovered their art at an early age. That’s a unique headspace to capture and the actress simply nails it.
As teased in the If I Stay trailer, Moretz’s alter ego is a cello prodigy who could be looking at attending the prestigious Juilliard when she graduates high school. The timing could be better. She has just discovered first love. But, this is no ordinary teenage crush -- as her mother Kat (Mireille Enos) points out. This could be the real thing.
The love of her life is Adam (Jamie Blackley, perfectly cast for numerous reasons) and he is a musician as well. He is in a band on their way to being signed by a record company and touring demands are ever increasing while Adam and Mia’s romance blossoms.
Then tragedy strikes with Mia landing in a coma after a car accident. She has to decide, should she fight to live, or just let go?
We see Mia in a coma in intensive care, but Moretz also plays the character walking around the hospital expressing what she’s feeling on the inside. It had to be a complicated thing to try to capture from the pages of Forman’s book and Cutler simply nails it by how he approached that fact.
And the reason it works is, again, Moretz. It never feels hokey or unbelievable, and we as the audience truly get engrossed in her story through a series of flashbacks that fill in the emotional blanks for Mia and her literal life and death decision.
Blackley matches Moretz note for note and their chemistry is undeniable. And Blackley is also impeccably cast because of his musical background and acting talent. We believe that these two are in love and also the two actors sell the fact that because they are so young, and both have such strong musical promise, that it is as complicated as teenage love can be -- even with the truest of adult emotional cores.
The supporting cast is outstanding, particularly Stacy Keach. The veteran actor plays Mia’s grandfather, and in one scene (that is Supporting Actor Oscar worthy) he sums up the entire power of the film with his pitch perfect performance.
But, what most impressed us by the time the credits rolled, our If I Stay review can report, is that the young actress we first discovered as Hit Girl when you watch Kick-Ass online is now on the verge of a seriously huge adult acting career that can take her as far as she wants to go.