Friday, August 29, 2014

If I Stay
There is a popular theory that none of us are separated by more than six degrees. I wonder about that as I write this review. The star of the new movie If I Stay was in her first film Heart of the Beholder which I reviewed for Hollywood Jesus back in 2005. Darlene Lieblich discovered little Miss Chloë Grace Moretz for that film. Ms Lieblich also helped produce my own short film The Long Walk. Chloë Grace Moretz has grown up from the little girl seen in Heart of the Beholder to a full grown, beautiful, award winning actress. There is no doubt about it, the new movie, If I Stay is a character driven love story with a unique twist that depends largely on the incredible talents of Moretz. 

The premise for If I Stay is rather simple, life is going good for young Mia Hall, an accomplished cellist. While using numerous flash back sequences, director R.J. Cutler does an admirable job of weaving the story together over a period of years following the life of a young Mia being raised by her Rock N Roll and Punk Rock mother and father up to her years prior to entering college. This Portland family has had a history of involvement in music and while Mia is taking her musicianship as a cellist seriously by extra practice she catches the eye of a up and coming Rock and Roll singer and guitarist Adam played by Jamie Blackley. Their love that seems to have promise until a tragic accident that has the potential to change everything. 

www.thevirtualpew.comWe have seen a number of near death experience movies recently, even in the Christian media we saw Heaven is for Real which seems to present a popular position that some people, prior to or near death have near death experiences where they experience the supernatural. After a tragic car accident this is exactly what happens to Mia, she has an out of body experience where she supernaturally sees everything going on around her as she fights for survival in a hospital. Without giving to much away, she is told by a loving and caring nurse who prays for her and cares for her that the choice of life is hers, she can give up and die, or she can fight to live. The out of body Mia sees all of this as the body of herself is in a coma. We see her facing the tragedy of the car accident her family is involved in and the response of those in her life as they visit and speak to her at the hospital including her lover and boyfriend, Adam. 

As a musician I found some weaknesses in the film that bothered me. It is clear that many of the musicians in the film are not musicians. There are many continuity problems in the music sequences and with the lack of continuity and various edited shots that most of the musicians are not real musicians. While Chloë Grace Moretz does not actually play the cello, she does an admirable job at acting the part, many musicians would think that she is in fact playing. There are also issues with some editing sequences in the area of continuity.  For many film buffs this will be an issue, however for those looking for a good story, with some decent acting, I suspect much of my criticsm will be overlooked as we see some very good acting sequences including a terrific job by Stacy Keach who plays the part of Mia's grandfather, her fathers father. Keach does as much in a limited role as any movie I have seen him in in some time. He does so good in fact that at the very least he will get consideration for a supporting actor award once the award season starts. 

www.thekeystonekid.orgThe story is quite thought provoking, especially when considering how one small thing can change ones life. If I Stay also has a Wonderful Life type of feel. We are challenged with whether or not we can make a difference or what type of impact have we had on the lives of others. If we had the chance, would there be things we would change? Have the decisions we have made, made any real difference? While the use of flashbacks can be difficult Chloë Grace Moretz does a very nice job at following direction and making their usage believable and not too distracting. She is very nice at the subtle things that will impress viewers. 

While the movie is not overly religious, we see some instances of prayer and there is the proverbial white light that Mia has the option to walk into or stay out of. She is conflicted with the option of living or dying and the direction has the viewer wondering about what decision she will make until the very last film sequence.  It is clear, there is more to life than the life we live on this earth.
I liked the reality that life continues after death. While I don't fully accept the premise presented in the movie, the truth is, I don't know. I believe the movie does a good job at getting the viewer to think about the decisions they make regarding life after death. The choices one is confronted with and the life one leads makes a difference. I also appreciated the family presented in the movie. Mia comes from a strong, loving family where we see a father willing to make sacrifices and provide for his family. He loves his children and has made the effort to be there for them while they grow up. We see his love for his wife and the love of family is one of the things that makes the sequences so emotional. We see a grandfather who is willing to admit his mistakes and in the process of admitting those mistakes making it clearly known that he wants the best for his granddaughter, even at the point of supporting whatever her decision regarding life or death. If I Stay doesn't provide the answers many may be looking for but it leaves many of the answers up to the viewer. In the process we see something unusual in film a strong loving family. 

If I Stay is not a great movie but it is a very good movie with some very good acting. It is well worth seeing and I suspect it will have an audience that will last beyond the time in theaters. It was nice to see a movie that caused me to think and was intelligently crafted despite some continuity issues. I have no regrets in seeing it and would be willing to watch again in the right circumstance. I suspect that most will be surprised that in the summer spectacle involving chase sequences, shoot outs and so much more action, that sometimes, good thought provoking stories can still entertain. 

On a scale of 1 - 10, for the eternity sign which looks like an 8 on its side, I give a surprising 8.  

 Click the following video to see the trailer for this film, if the video doesn't work, try the following link:

The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at You can visit

Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

No comments: