Based on the Gayle Forman novel, this teen weepie is wrenchingly emotional and packed with girly fantasies. But the characters and situations have a lot more earthy honesty to them than this summer's other big adolescent tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars. It may be just as relentlessly sentimentalised, but the issues involved are faced with a lot more grit and realism, so the film earns its sob-inducing emotions.
Set in Portland, Oregon, the story centres on the Hall family. Parents Kat and Denny (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) are former rockers who have mildly toned down their wild ways as they have raised their children: 17-year-old Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the younger Teddy (Jakob Davies) to be independent and artistic. Although Kat and Denny are rather taken aback by Mia's obsessive love of classical music and prodigious gift with the cello. Then Mia is shocked to discover that the cool rock-god Adam (Jamie Blackley) at her high school is interested in her. As their relationship develops over the next year, it hits a few bumps along the way. And it's during one of these bad patches that Mia is in a life-threatening car crash with her family. In an out-of-body experience, she watches everyone react to her life-and-death situation, wondering, "Should I stay or should I go?"
Which of course would be a much better title for a rock-n-roll movie than this one. Never mind, since the film is structured as a peeling-onion of flashbacks and out-of-sequence revelations, Mia's conundrum is genuinely complicated, in a movie sort of way. But then everything about this film exists only in the movies, most notably Adam, the most perfect boyfriend in the history of cinema: a bad boy musician with a deep soul, open emotions and thoughtful reactions. He has so clearly been devised to appeal to the teen-girl audience that it's occasionally a bit ridiculous.
Continue reading: If I Stay Review
Every year, a group of old friends get together for a July 4th weekend vacation, but this year things seem a little more awkward than usual. There's plenty of tension in the air as Wendy Conifer is joined by her current husband Ellis and her ex Saul, as well her daughter Joey. Also among the party are Saul's struggling ghost writer Will who has a drinking problem, Saul's wife Emma who happens to be having an affair with Will and Wendy's life coach buddy Hal. It's difficult for everyone to remain civil during their time together; even group activities such as golf, hiking and boating doesn't distract from the steadily building animosity. Unfortunately, it seems to be rubbing off the most on young Joey, who seeks comfort in the form of the group's new addition; a nature filmmaker named Chad. Can a new face help rebuild the souring relationships between them? Joey certainly hopes so.
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When one day the most scary thing you can contemplate is an important cello recital at Juilliard and the next you are fighting for your life, you're bound to feel a little messed up. Mia didn't realise just how much she had; her close family, her amazingly cool and loyal boyfriend Adam and a sparkling future in music; until a fateful family car journey in the snow forced her to see. She finds herself having an out of body experience, looking over her comatose body in hospital with her family and friends surrounding her. She understands that she is going to be an orphan with a future more uncertain than ever, but those who love her have to convince her to come back to them nonetheless. Will she brave it and return to the world? Or is it really her time to leave?
Continue: If I Stay Trailer
There's a lovely simplicity to this quietly unnerving story about two brothers who have never had a break in life. And while it is relentlessly grim, it's also elegantly well-made, held together by another revelatory performance from Emile Hirsch as a talented guy whose path has been dictated to him by forces outside his control.
The title refers to the way two brothers have lived since their mother died: in a sleazy motel just off the strip in Reno. Frank (Hirsch) has had to be the responsible one, moving from job to job to support his chaotic, disabled older brother Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff). And now that Jerry Lee has been involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident, Frank is trying to find a way to get out of town. He turns to his old car-dealer mentor (Kris Kristofferson) for advice and considers getting in touch with his ex Annie (Dakota Fanning), even though their relationship ended very badly. But first he hits the casinos to raise some cash with his pals (Joshua Leonard and Noah Harpster).
Sibling filmmakers Alan and Gabe Polsky give the movie a darkly introspective tone, taking us into Frank's thoughts through evocative flashbacks to the brothers' struggles as teens (played by Andrew Lee and Garrett Backstrom). And as Frank tells Jerry Lee stories to help him cope with life, these tales fill the screen in gorgeous sketch-style animation that matches Jerry Lee's artistic skills. All of this gives the film a quietly moving tone that finds spiky humour and emotional resonance when we least expect it.
Continue reading: The Motel Life Review
As part of its bid to make 24-hour news an institution, CNN sent producers Robert Wiener (Michael Keaton) and Ingrid Formanek (Helena Bonham Carter) to Baghdad in August 1990 to cover the brutal Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The HBO film Live from Baghdad is the story of how Wiener and CNN overcame adversity to become the only network to continue broadcasting from Baghdad during the U.S. air strikes.
Continue reading: Live From Baghdad Review
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