Chloe Grace Moretz’s new film explores facets of faith and finds footing in the search for one’s purpose in the midst of love. The screen adaptation of If I Stay, based on New York Times best-selling author Gayle Forman’s novel of the same name, is sure to raise questions and spark conversation not only about the life of the present, but also the one that follows.
The movie follows a teen girl, Mia (played by Moretz), who has a bleeding heart for music and her passion comes through her flawless cello playing abilities. Still searching for identity, with support from her rocker-in-training boyfriend, she accompanies her family on a drive down an icy road, when they’re suddenly launched into a horrific accident where Mia finds herself in a hospital room moments later. Literally staring at life (her own body on the hospital bed), and death (a recurring light that shines through brightly), she is forced to make a decision. Now, while most people would emphatically jump at the chance to choose life, her story is a bit more complicated, as whatever she decides to do will have dramatic and vast consequences beyond her control.
With more of Hollywood’s focus beginning to turn towards faith-inspired, or spiritual films with the success of movies like Heaven is for Real, and God Is Not Dead, it would seem that one, starring Moretz as a girl who has an out-of-body experience, and is faced with the choice to either follow the light and join her family who is already gone, or stay, and continue on her acoustic melody of love finds similar success. Often times, it appears that some of the most gripping and uplifting stories are those that came out of a heartbreaking experience.
Gayle Forman touches on this and the inspiration for her book during a dialogue with The Source. “It kind of came out of a personal tragedy,” she begins, “It happened many years before, where I had friends who lost their lives in a car accident, much like that one that happens to Mia and her family, and what elevated that accident was, they were all killed, but one of the children lived longer and was rushed to a trauma center where he passed away. That piece of the story really tormented me for years, like, ‘Did he know what had happened to his family?’ and ‘Did he choose to go with them?’ It is hypothetical questions like these that drew Moretz to the main character.
During a recent interview with Direct Coversations, Moretz touches on the topic of choices, that everyone has his or her own to make, and how the film aims to make people think for themselves. “The nice thing about If I Stay is that it’s not necessarily religion-based,” Moretz says, “We made a movie that’s more about the subject of free will… We leave it up to your interpretation of what happens. I think it’s more interesting that way” she concludes. For those who may be interested in what she thinks about her own faith, they would not have to wait long to get an answer from the charismatic 17-year-old as she gracefully finds her way through roles, “I come from a Christian household and I consider myself to be a girl guided by those same values, it is definitely a part of who I am.”
By Theodore Borders