Sunday, December 28, 2014

If I Stay ★

    Structurally speaking, "If I Stay" is a mess of a picture. Its non-linear approach to the material is completely dysfunctional, and its expository flashbacks are ultimately hampered by the lack of an exhilarating climax, and by the nonexistence of a denouement, which in this film, is so direly warranted.

    Our young protagonist, Mia Hall, is involved in a severe vehicular accident, and, as a result, goes into a coma. (If you are first hearing about this synopsis, then I must tell you that it will not mar your experience.) We are told that it is up to her, whether she lives or dies, and we struggle to watch as this girl runs around a hospital (due to an outer body experience) and reminisces on a naive relationship with another adolescent.--this romance supersedes every other logical reason for her to live and irks me to the very core of my being.

    Obviously, this intention is spurred by the thought of the target audience, who flocks to the theater to see two youthful souls fall in love, in hopes that their reality will someday reflect that on-screen. (What young woman wouldn't want to be romanced by a lead singer and lose their virginity in a boat house?) Mia is a highly educated individual, who happens to be a very talented cellist, with an opportunity to attend one of the finest music programs in the country, the Juilliard school.

    The dramatic intensity of her fateful "decision" is an object of ridicule, and rightfully so. She has every reason to live, and none more so than the instinctual nature of every living mammal on Earth. (It is not only our nature to live, but to live in happiness.) Doubt is cast here and there, as our central character and her lover quibble over the most trivial of issues, which only results in a strain being placed on our young and talented actors. Character irony is forced, considering our principal male lives his life "in the moment," yet he must get a long term commitment from Mia, which leads to another complication. Without a plausible story, all inspiration is lost.

    This is not to mention the fact that Mia's persona can never fully reach a plane of conceivability. Find me a seventeen-year-old girl who listens to Yo-Yo Ma and Franz Schubert, and I will renounce my conviction. (It is quite likely that you will never find this individual, or someone who has even heard of these musicians.)

    "If I Stay" is a prime example of a well-crafted film, whose script never adds up. The cinematography is surprisingly impressive, and easily satisfies all three goals of cinematic composition. Depth is created quite eloquently through reflection, and foreground framing is utilized beautifully while capturing a young Mia through the window frame of a door, as she practices her cello. The most exquisite sequence, however, consists of Mia's Juilliard audition, as the camera vigorously encapsulates the passion of her hands and movement of her fingers.

    There is a scene that takes place late in the film, in which Mia has lost all hope and crumbles to the floor with an exclamation of, "I want this to be over!" This delivery is rather figurative, as I believe the actress holds the same attitude with regard to her performance. She is not alone, however, as I held the sentiment as well.

    *On a side note, it would seem as if the twenty-first century, along with all of the unnecessary technological "improvements," have found a home in cinema. Terms such as Google Alert and Skype, are utilized fruitlessly, and applications such as Instagram are now used to provide objects of remembrance and reflection. We have come so far in filmmaking, and yet, it is evident that these instruments will only set us back. As one humble man so graciously put it: "What can you do?"  


1 comment:

  1. It seems like this kind of film, like the book, is very much targeted to a specific target audience and is most enjoyable when watched from this audience. And it seems like a very well made movie when it comes to it, excepting the whole structure aspect. It's one I want to see :) Great review!