Movie reviews: ‘If I Stay,’ ‘Sin City’
If I Stay (Warner Bros.)
A tearjerker for teens, "If I Stay" glamorizes the physical relationship between its two leads, making it totally unsuitable for its target audience. And it's doubtful that many adult moviegoers, for whom it may be acceptable, will want to sit through this contrived weepy, adapted by director R.J. Cutler from Gayle Forman's best-selling novel.
One of the picture’s few assets is Chloe Grace Moretz's game performance as Mia Hall, the "I" of the title. An aspiring Oregon cellist with a shot at attending Julliard, Mia is busy worrying about how her possible departure for the East Coast has strained her bond with her rocker boyfriend Adam when her life takes a sudden, horrific turn.
A family outing ends in tragedy when a car accident claims the lives of Mia's groovy ex-punk parents, gravely injures her little brother, and leaves Mia herself comatose.
Needless to say, an unconscious heroine simply will not do — on screen or on the printed page. So Mia has a convenient out-of-body experience, and takes us along for the ride, trying to decide whether to fight for life to be reunited with Adam or follow her folks into eternity.
While the script implicitly affirms the existence of an afterlife — a bright light seemingly beckons to Mia every so often — some of her memories reveal attitudes at odds with Scripture-based values. Thus Mia is delighted to learn that the backup singer in Adam's band — a girl she sees as a potential rival for his affections — is a lesbian. And not a shy one, either.
More prominently, Mia initiates an encounter with Adam that, although discreetly shown, is presented as a wonderfully romantic experience. A later scene finds them together in Mia's bed at home, a scene with which reflective viewers will not be so comfortable, given that Mia, a senior in high school, may or may not be 18.
Although Mia's real-life contemporaries may balk at being kept away from "If I Stay," their guardians will at least have spared them such cringe-worthy moments as Adam's impromptu ICU serenade to his still-sleeping beauty.
The film contains a benign view of teen sexuality and homosexual acts, nongraphic premarital (and possibly underage) sexual activity, a same-sex kiss, at least one use of profanity and considerable crude language. (A-III, PG-13)
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (Weinstein)
The hard-boiled, excessively violent milieu of this sequel to 2005's "Sin City" is so overdone it plays like a satire. Graphic novels sometimes can become compelling dramas, but this film amounts to little more than a smutty comic-book adaptation using competent actors as bait.
Frank Miller, who wrote the script and co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, emphasizes lurid bloodletting amid the retro black-and-white setting. All women are objects of desire; the men exist only to have their eyes gouged out and fingers maimed while they absorb fists and bullets; and if anybody comes away from these sordid proceedings a winner, it's certainly not the audience.
The film contains pervasive violence, frequent upper female nudity, much sexual banter and fleeting crass language. (O, R)
CNS classifications: A-I — general patronage. A-II — adults and adolescents. A-III — adults. A-IV — adults, with reservations. L — limited adult audiences, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. O — morally offensive.