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If I Stay 

Teenage girl tackles life, love and tragedy in this fairly low-key melodrama

click to enlarge If I Stay film

It might be my advanced age, but I would have much preferred hanging out with the lively, hip parents depicted in this film rather than the mopey teens all confused about life, love and stuff. But R.J. Cutler's melodrama is adapted from Gayle Forman's young-adult novel, in which a Portland teenager named Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) struggles to find meaning in her increasingly messy life. She is by nature cautious and devoted to her cello, but meeting a boy — in a rock band! — complicates everything. Mia's story unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, as she confronts the minor (parents are irksome) and the major (relationship trouble, which college to attend). Then, there's the super-major issue: Is life even worth slogging through after a catastrophic family tragedy? It all plays out as expected — the dreamy boyfriend (Jamie Blackley), the puppy-dog romance, the not-very-surprising conclusion. Moretz effectively underplays material that veers toward cheesy, and Mireille Enos sparkles as her fierce and funny mom. Starts Fri., Aug. 22

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