Category: Teen Romances
Eliza Hittman’s powerful debut feature tells the story of Lila (Gina Piersanti, in a stunning debut), a fourteen year old spending a hot summer in a blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood far removed from the bustling city. Awkward, lonely, and often playing the third wheel, Lila is determined to emulate the sexual exploits of her more experienced best friend.
She fixates on Sammy, a tough older guy, when she hears that “he’ll sleep with anyone.” Deluded in her romantic pursuit, Lila tries desperately to insert herself into Sammy’s gritty world, but in doing so she puts herself into a dangerously vulnerable situation.
It Felt Like Love is a 2013 independent drama film, the first feature film directed by Eliza Hittman. It Felt Like Love premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and subsequently screened at such festivals as International Film Festival Rotterdam, Maryland Film Festival and Giffoni Film Festival. It was acquired by Variance Films in November 2013, with a theatrical release in 2014.
Film Review: It Felt Like Love
An evocatively shot, rawly unsentimental coming-of-ager from debut helmer Eliza Hittman, “It Felt Like Love” follows a vulnerable teen who envies the sexual experience of her confident older friend and determines to have a relationship of her own.
An evocatively shot, rawly unsentimental coming-of-ager from debut helmer Eliza Hittman, “It Felt Like Love” follows a vulnerable teen who envies the sexual experience of her confident older friend and determines to have a relationship of her own. The writer-director’s stress on the small, degrading details that attend yearning as well as her protagonist’s desperation and self-deception make it more mood piece than straightforward narrative, but the ultra-confident production proves that Hittman’s a talent to watch. Nevertheless, critical and fest admiration are likely to trump commercial success here. The microbudget indie will next court Euro buyers from Rotterdam’s Tiger competition.
It’s summer in working-class Brooklyn. Wide-eyed, 14-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti) tries to learn from her experience as third wheel in the relationship of charismatic Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and her boyfriend Patrick (Jesse Cordasco). Not only is she witness to their heavy petting sessions on the beach and in the bedroom, but Chiara confides intimate details that virginal Lila only pretends to understand.
When Lila sets her sights on thuggish college boy Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), she impetuously claims a level of sexual expertise that sets her up for humiliation and heartbreak. Although Sammy isn’t interested, he doesn’t — at first — reject her outright, and the mere fact he answers her texts encourages her to spin more lies: to Chiara, her neighbor Nate (Case Prime), her distracted father (Kevin Anthony Ryan) and herself.
Hittman’s screenplay was written around the talents of her impressive non-pro cast, with the modern-dance expertise of Piersanti and Salimeni, both highly credible thesps, figuring prominently. However, with the central emphasis on Lila’s unsentimental education, the narrative fails to provide the character with enough likability to balance her obsessive pursuit of Sammy and her ill-judged bravado.
In her interactions with her father, Lila comes off a typical sullen teen. It is only late into the film when audiences learn something that might be an underlying psychological factor for her behavior. The odd, unclimactic final scene brings the dance rehearsals full circle, but still feels able to be improved on.
Tightly framed, expressive lensing by Sean Porter (“Eden”) supports the poetic realism of the visuals, and calls to mind the beach photographs of Rineke Dijkstra, Lynne Ramsay’s “Ratcatcher” and Cate Shortland’s “Somersault.” Spot-on costume and accessory design by Sarah Maiorino telegraphs reams of information about the characters while feeling completely natural.
The music is diegetic, with song selections related to the hip-hop and rapping talents of the young male cast. More important is the rich sound design, in which the heartbeat of nature, particularly the roar of the waves, align the audience with the rush of Lila’s emotions.
It Felt Like Love
Directed by: Eliza Hittman
Starring: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Sophia Jurewicz, Anna David, Maria Salimeni, Viktoria Vinyarska
Screenplay by: Eliza Hittman
Production Design by: James Boxer
Cinematography by: Sean Porter
Film Editing by: Scott Cummings
Costume Design by: Sarah Maiorino
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Variance Films
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Taglines: One guy can ruin the perfect relationship.
At 29, the most long-term relationship Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) have ever been in is with each other, using their co-dependent friendship as an excuse not to venture out into the dating world alone. But when Paige meets nerdy Tim (Adam Brody) and starts to get serious for the first time, the nature of their friendship begins to shift. Fearing she’s being cast aside, Sasha tries to keep their relationship the same, but does growing up also mean growing apart?
Life Partners is an American comedy film directed by Susanna Fogel and co-written with Joni Lefkowitz. It is Fogel’s feature film directorial debut. The film stars Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody, Greer Grammer, Gabourey Sidibe, and Julie White. The film premiered on April 18, 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival in the Spotlight section. The film was released on November 6, 2014 on demand platforms, and in select theaters on December 5, 2014.
Set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, principal photography began in April 2013 and lasted 19 days. The film was primarily shot in Glendale, California and Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. Some scenes were shot at Griffith Park and at Long Beach, California during the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride. Other scenes were also filmed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minneapolis skyline and a few Minneapolis landmarks are also shown in the film.
We’ve all had a best friend. Especially for women, this relationship is as intense as any romantic partnership we will ever have. She’s the person we share our innermost fears with, the person who drives us to the emergency room, the person we bring as our date to weddings. Particularly nowadays, when people are encouraged to take their time in committing romantically, these quasi-marital friendships can last well into our 20s if not 30s, and are a huge part of the Zeitgeist.
It’s surprising, then, how rarely these friendships are accurately portrayed in American films. In mainstream romantic comedies, we’re treated to the “comic relief sidekick” friend who is unflaggingly supportive of the movie’s protagonist (and overly interested in her love life). And we’ve seen the onscreen frenemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage her “best friend” through broad set pieces that sometimes literally involve hair-pulling. But what about that person you love more than anyone in the world…but still talk about behind her back and find yourself subtly one-upping when you’re feeling insecure?
That person you love so much that it kills you to see her making mistakes and why doesn’t she just listen to you when you tell her how to fix her life? That person who drives you so crazy with her passive-aggressive crap that when you complain about it to the guy you’re dating, he can’t help but ask why you’re still friends with her because he just doesn’t get it? It’s that friendship my cowriter Joni and I set out to study with this film, in the tradition of films like Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking that are unparalleled in their realism about female friendship and its absurd amazingness.
Just as we believe there’s a dearth of honest films about female friendships, we also feel a need for films about gays and lesbians having relatable experiences in a diverse world. Joni and I identify differently (she’s gay, I’m straight) and we wanted to represent her community without focusing a narrative on “coming out” or emphasizing the politics of her sexuality in a way that would make the film niche. On the contrary, we wanted to universalize it. Not only did we want to show a platonic gay-straight friendship where neither character is romantically interested in the other, but in executing the script as a director, I strived for accessibility.
In casting, I sought actresses who were widely known and broadly appealing to play lesbians, like Leighton Meester who lends so much credibility, nuance and heart to a role that could not be further from her role on GOSSIP GIRL. As for her straight counterpart, I tried to avoid the plight of the generic romantic comedy heroine by casting Gillian Jacobs, an actress known for her quirky personality and cult comedy fanbase.
As far as my aesthetic approach to directing this film, I aimed for a combination of real and slightly elevated. I’ve always admired directors like Cameron Crowe who combine naturalistic writing and performances with a real sense of style that lends an element of wish fulfillment, fun and entertainment. With this in mind, I tried to encourage moments of spontaneity and raw emotion, while still delivering the scripted comedy and avoiding an overly improvisational or haphazard feel. I approached production design, costume and music with this same philosophy in mind, always aiming for a combination of real and slightly elevated.
With all that said, my hope with LIFE PARTNERS is to deliver a female friendship comedy that resonates and entertains, hitting that sweet spot between a “film” and a “movie” as it explores the universal theme of friendship…along with some related themes (sexuality, women at the center of their own narrative, to name two) that deserve more of a spotlight.
“Leighton especially was really fun to transform from this gossip girl to someone who was representative of the lesbian community and who wasn’t passing as a lipstick lesbian. She doesn’t have a lot of money, she is thrift shopping her stuff or is inheriting it from different people or had it since college and I think making that evident was incredibly important, so we did that. Everything she wears is from a thrift shop or borrowed – it was a beg borrow and steal kind of movie.”
“Your mid to late 20s are such a hard time to dress yourself because you don’t have the money to be the professional you want to be but you need to look professional and that’s something PAIGE has really nailed that SASHA hasn’t figured out. PAIGE is really reveling in being this young lawyer on a career path, and even in her casual wear, you see that.”
The rest of the team came together quickly but efficiently and in April 2013, the 19-day shoot began. Set in Minneapolis, LIFE PARTNERS was shot entirely on the east side of LA, primarily in Glendale and Eagle Rock.
The strong relationship between Leftowitz, Fogel and Mollick extended to their cast and crew, their relaxed professionalism creating a sense of ease and comfort for anyone on set. Fogel’s supportive and good-natured attitude as a director proved incredibly impactful. Meester elaborates, “She’s really ahead of what a lot of people are capable of at her age and especially for somebody who is directing their first feature, I’ve never seen someone be so humble and confident, creative, in tune, and collaborative.” Jacobs adds, “It’s one of the calmest sets I’ve ever been on and for a first time director, that’s really an accomplishment. Everyone seems happy to be at work every day and everything went smoothly. I’ve worked on a lot of movies this size where that is not the case and I think Susanna sets the tone, so it’s been really great.”
Even when Meester & Jacobs had an evening shoot in an unheated pool, playful shrieking and humming the Super Mario Brothers theme took the place of any potential complaining. Their immediate bond didn’t go unnoticed.
“With this the friendship connection between the girls is so important, you’re kind of just taking a gamble,” says Fogel. “You have meetings with each one and if you feel like they would like each other, you just roll the dice on that, but we’re glad they ended up really clicking and becoming friends.” Lefkowitz continues, “I’m sure by the last day they were speaking another language. On day one, everyone was a little nervous and tense but seriously, by day two, they were humping each other before every take, we were like ‘WHAT is happening?’ – we’re just so lucky we found two people with such an odd sense of humor, like Gillian would come to set in a tree costume and they would make crazy videos, they just thought the same weird things were funny and made the same weird voices when they would rehearse their scenes. They related to each other in that weird way and that’s just luck that they were both the same brand of abnormal.”
Jacobs adds, “This movie is all about our friendship and you don’t really know when you meet each other what you’re actually like and turns out she’s a freak like me, so it’s been awesome…we both realized we were goofy weirdoes early on. It’s fun to have someone like that, where you can be as weird as you want to be. The whole crew was kind of like that on this film so it was a fun, silly environment for us.”
The last day of shooting, which took place at Griffith Park, production bought a food truck for the crew and Brody brought in more cupcakes from his favorite bakery than a small independent film crew could possibly eat. It is worth noting not a cast or crew member was absent at the wrap party where karaoke was involved and shirts featuring an inside joke from set printed on the front were disseminated among the group.
Heading towards the film’s festival run, Fogel & Lefkowitz ruminate on how far they have come. “There’s so much that we reflect on and write about that comes from our friendship and how much we’ve changed over the years,” says Fogel. “We always mine our own lives and experiences for stories, but when we met we were both so different. Joni wasn’t out of the closet yet and I was a weird insecure pretentious indie rock person. We evolved into grownups together and we will continue to do that over the next few decades. Having met right after college and now being in our 30s and making this big leap to this next phase of our careers is exciting to do together.”
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs. Adam Brody, Mark Feuerstein, Julie White, Abby Elliot, Greer Grammer, Kate McKinnon, Beth Dover, Gabourey Sidibe
Screenplay by: Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz
Production Design by: Matt Luem
Cinematography by: Brian Burgoyne
Film Editing by: Kiran Pallegadda
Costume Design by: Courtney Hoffman
Set Decoration by: Danielle Laubach
Art Direction by: Nicolas Kelley
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Studio; Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: December 5, 2014
Taglines: Open your heart, find your voice.
Beyond the Lights is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new award-winning artist who is primed for superstardom. But not all is what it seems,and the pressures cause Noni to nearly fall apart – until she meets Kaz Nicol, a promising young cop and aspiring politician who’s been assigned to her detail. Drawn to each other, Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance. But can Kaz’s love give Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be?
Beyond the Lights is an American romantic drama film directed and written by Gina Prince-Bythewood. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver, Nate Parker and Danny Glover. The film had its premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014. and is set for a theatrical release in the United States November 14, 2014.
About the Story
Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood uses music as creative inspiration. So it comes as little surprise that inspiration for her new film came while sitting at an Alicia Keys concert. “Alicia was singing her song ‘Diary’ which is an epic love song, and suddenly this character and love story came into my head. It was one of those rare, great moments as a writer where a movie just starts flowing out.”
Inspired by some of her favorite music films like Purple Rain, Lady Sings the Blues, and The Rose, Prince-Bythewood continued to develop the idea of love blossoming within the complicated world of hip hop and R&B. “I love the way music can fuel a movie, and everything just seemed to come together.” And so the story of Noni’s struggle to realize her need for a fulfilling personal life while maintaining her creative dreams began to coalesce.
Over the next four years, the story of Noni evolved with support from husband and producing partner Reggie Rock Bythewood. The director’s ‘first eye,’ Rock-Bythewood describes himself as “the first person she gets to argue with about her vision.”
And her vision was simple: “I wanted to create a great love story.” Gina Prince-Bythewood credits her husband for helping her through the writing process. Instead of writing Noni’s mother as African-American, he suggested she take a page from her own book; and make the character Caucasian, and Noni, biracial, like her and her own mother. “Why don’t you touch on your own life because things get stronger when you write from a personal place,” she recalls him saying. “Now I can’t imagine the story any other way.”
Industry reaction to the finished script was overwhelmingly positive but getting a commitment to underwrite production was long in coming. “Getting ‘no’ is soul-crushing but we refused to give up.” One of their biggest hurdles was in getting past studios’ need for an A-list star in the role of Noni. Their combined belief in the story’s potential kept them hopeful. “I kept turning down other projects because suppose Beyond the Lights goes?” Prince-Bythewood explains. Rock Bythewood came up with a solution to shift the tide in their favor. “Reg encouraged me to shoot a presentation for the studios. That really changed the game and led Relativity to green-light the film.”
After shooting the presentation, Prince-Bythewood sent the script to producer Stephanie Allain. “I’d worked with Stephanie on Biker Boyz and love her energy. She loves the process and I respect her opinion.” The response was immediate. “Stephanie called later that night and said ‘I want to be part of it.'” Allain offers. “Gina had actually shared it with me years before. I was really happy she called me again for such a classic and timely story.”
Allain joined the filmmakers to produce the story after viewing the presentation. “Gina is a visionary. She knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, says Allain.” Having Allain on board buoyed spirits. “I loved that she was so excited about it. I had passion, Reggie had it, now it was great to bring Stephanie on as well so it was three of us really pushing and fighting together.”
Creating An Artist
The process of transformation was one of the ideas that attracted Mbatha-Raw when she first read the script. “I liked the idea that you can start as a caterpillar and end up as a butterfly and, and go through all of this massive journey just to come back to who you really are.”
The filmmakers needed to ensure that Mbatha-Raw was prepared for the challenge of bringing Noni to the screen – a process that started before Relativity came on board. They needed to transform her into a R&B hip-hop artist. To do that, “we had to surround Gugu with the very same people who surround Rihanna, Beyonce, JLo, all the amazing talented women at the top of their game today,” explains Allain. “We wanted authenticity, even though we were creating it.”
The filmmakers started with the music. “The acting was dope and she sang Nina Simone’s Blackbird but it was a different kind of singing,” recalls Prince-Bythewood. “She comes from musical theatre but this is R&B hip hop.” Debra Byrd, vocal coach for the American Idol and X-Factor contestants, was hired to work with Mbatha-Raw. “Debra really helped to add the right quality and texture to Gugu’s voice.”
“You can’t sell a music movie if you don’t have authentic music,” says Allain. Following Mbatha-Raw’s work with Debra Byrd, the filmmakers needed to partner with a hit-maker to create songs for her voice. “And the only person Gina had in mind was The Dream. He has made hit after hit for Beyonce, Rihanna. He was the one we needed.” Prince-Bythewood clarifies. “I needed someone who could write a song like “Ride” with Ciara and Ludacris, which is really raunchy to writing “1+1″, a beautiful love song for Beyonce.”
Music supervisor Julia Michels contacted The Dream who, as an admirer of Prince-Bythewood’s previous films, agreed to join the team. “The Dream is very specific,” the director explains. “He sings all his demos and then you sing to what he did, so it was really giving Gugu the tone and swagger that the songs needed.”
“We’re so lucky to have The Dream,” says Mbatha-Raw. “Each song is different and charts a different aspect of Noni’s journey, starting with Masterpiece, which is probably the most raw and aggressive number and then Private Property, which still has that element, but is a little slinkier.”
“We’re hoping this is one of those films where people rush to get a soundtrack,” says Rock Bythewood. “But music is just another character in the film and as entertaining as the music is, it’s really an opportunity to challenge people’s perspectives about what we’re saying in music. Can an artist be authentic and still be commercial? That’s one of the things we struggle with as filmmakers, and it’s one of the things Noni struggles with as a singer.”
“Once we had The Dream and after he created these great songs, and we knew Gugu could master them, we felt really confident,” explains Allain. ” But that’s only part of it because the next part is artist development. Could Gugu really step into the role as the pop diva queen?” To help find out, the filmmakers turned to Laurieann Gibson.
“We had an amazing meeting and she started crying,” explains Prince-Bythewood. ” I knew she was the perfect person for Gugu because she believes in tough love but she’s also giving and enthusiastic and impassioned about what she does. Thankfully Gugu has a dance background, so she had a place to start.”
Allain continues. “Laurieann is the artist developer. She works with Nicki Minaj, she’s worked with Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. I’m talking choreography and carriage, how they walk and how they look and how they wave at fans, and just being a diva. Laurieann is amazing.”
“Gina wanted the knowledge, the passion, the commitment I had to the movie to translate in my process working with Gugu,” explains Gibson. “She’s very specific and did not want there to be any preconceived notion about what happens in a club, on the stage, in the music industry, and that element of ‘sex sells’.”
“The work with Laurieann was really important for me to get the physicality, the dance and, that Ã¼ber-cocky sexual confidence that comes with the swagger of being an artist like Noni,” explains Mbatha-Raw. “Laurieann, Gina and I saw Rihanna live, we saw Beyonce live, we went to the Grammys, Greystone Manor, LA’s hottest hip hop club, and visited artists performing in the studio. Anything that can help to build the character.”
Gibson continues. “We had to do things that could be very uncomfortable but Gugu threw herself into the physicality of it and allowed me to push her. What Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Nicki do looks easy, but it’s not. There’s an athleticism to being a performer, and to the stage, and to what it really takes to be number one. Gugu was determined. It was a pleasure to help her discover the character.”
Beyond the Lights
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver, Nate Parker, Danny Glover, Aisha Hinds, Hayley Marie Norman, Deidrie Henry, Elaine Tan
Bcreenplay by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Production Design by: Cecilia Montiel, Hannah Purdy Foggin
Cinematography by: Tami Reiker
Film Editing by: Terilyn A. Shropshire
Costume Design by: Sandra Hernandez
Set Decoration by: Lori Mazuer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Justin Long and Emmy Rossum are star-crossed lovers whose relationship blooms and unravels over the course of six years in this mysterious, dazzlingly original romance. When a chance encounter brings together the cynical Dell (Justin Long) and the quick-witted Kimberly (Emmy Rossum), the stage is set for a tempestuous love affair that unfolds like a puzzle.
As the film zigzags back and forth in time-from a meteor shower in LA, to an encounter in a Paris hotel room, to a fateful phone call-an unforgettable portrait of a relationship emerges. Sumptuously shot and boasting incredible chemistry between the leads, Comet is a one-of-a-kind cosmic love story.
Comet is an American comedy drama film directed and written by Sam Esmail. The film stars Emmy Rossum and Justin Long. The movie had its world premiere at Los Angeles Film Festival on June 13, 2014. It will be released worldwide on December 5, 2014.
Directed by: Sam Esmail
Starring: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long, Eric Winter, Kayla Servi, Nicole Lucas, Ben Pace, Derrick Dean
Screenplay by: Sam Esmail
Production Design by: Annie Spitz
Cinematography by: Eric Koretz
Film Editing by: Franklin Peterson
Costume Design by: Mona May
Set Decoration by: Tracy Dishman
Art Direction by: Brittany Hites
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: December 5, 2014
Taglines: Love thy neighbor.
St. Vincent is an American comedy-drama film written and directed by Theodore Melfi, making his feature film debut. The film stars Bill Murray as the title character with Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts. The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival where it won 2nd runner up as “People’s Choice Award for Best Film”. It was released theatrically on October 24, 2014.
Filming began the first week of July 2013, with scenes filmed in Brooklyn, New York and at Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island, New York. On December 26, 2013, Theodore Shapiro was hired to score the film. Sony Classical Records released the soundtrack album on October 27, 2014.
Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) is a Vietnam War veteran and retiree living in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, who is the son of Irish immigrants. He is a grumpy alcoholic who smokes and gambles regularly. His wife, Sandy (Donna Mitchell), developed Alzheimer’s Disease years ago and can no longer recognize him, but he still does her laundry for her at the nursing home where she lives and visits her every week, posing as a doctor. Otherwise, Vincent’s only other close friends are a pregnant Russian prostitute named Daka (Naomi Watts) and his cat, Felix, as he owes many people money. Despite leading a quiet and boring existence, Vincent has many acquaintances who like and respect him.
One day, after Vincent’s 30-year-old Chrysler Lebaron gets damaged by a tree branch resulting from his new neighbors moving in, Maggie Bronstein (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), meet Vincent. Maggie is a single mother fighting for custody after her husband had several affairs. Despite this, she is doing her best to provide for Oliver, who is ostracised and bullied at his Catholic school, but is nonetheless knowledgeable and friendly. On his first day at his school, Oliver’s phone and house keys are stolen from his gym locker. Oliver asks Vincent if he can stay at his home until his mother comes home from work. Maggie is late and she pays Vincent for babysitting.
Now that Vincent has money coming in, Vincent starts babysitting Oliver every day after school because Maggie often has to work late hours. Vincent’s ideas of after-school activities involve visits to racetracks and bars, but eventually the mismatched pair begin to help each other mature. Vincent teaches Oliver how to fight, and he breaks his bully’s nose, but the two soon become best friends. Vincent and Oliver quickly become good friends and a lucky bet at the racetracks help Vincent to pay off some of his debts. But things do not get any easier for Vincent, as he gambles away the rest of his money, hoping to make more to keep Sandy in her nursing home, as he is behind on payments. Vincent is also interrogated in his home by his loan sharks Zucko (Terrence Howard) and Antwan (James Andrew O’Connor), who both attempt to take Sandy’s jewelry.
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, Kimberly Quinn, Ann Dowd
Screenplay by: Theodore Melfi
Production Design by: Inbal Weinberg
Cinematography by: John Lindley
Film Editing by: Sarah Flack, Peter Teschner
Costume Design by: Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Set Decoration by: Jasmine E. Ballou, Graham Wichman
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Taglines: They just can’t themselves together.
Love, Rosie is a 2014 British-German romantic comedy-drama film directed by Christian Ditter and written by Juliette Towhidi, based on the 2004 novel Where Rainbows End by Irish author Cecelia Ahern. The film stars Lily Collins, Sam Claflin, Tamsin Egerton, Suki Waterhouse, Jaime Winstone and Lily Laight.
Alex and Rosie have been best friends for almost as long as they can remember. After depicting their time together as children, the movie jumps to Rosie making a speech at what appears to be a wedding, while staring at Alex, implying it may be his wedding but not hers. The movie switches to 12 years earlier, where Rosie is upset because of getting drunk during her 18th birthday. Alex comes over to discuss the previous night’s events but pauses when Rosie tells him how she wished it never happened.
The pair later go to the beach together to attend a party where ‘the fittest guy in [their]grade’ asks Rosie to the school dance, which she rejects saying she is going with Alex. Alex later tells her that an attractive and ‘out of his league’ girl named Bethany wants to go with him. After a fight between the two, Alex and Bethany go to the dance along with Greg and Rosie. After some dancing, Bethany and Alex share a passionate kiss and Greg and Rosie get a private room. The two then have sex but due to Greg’s inexperience, the condom comes off and gets stuck inside Rosie. She immediately calls Alex who gets her to a hospital then takes her home.
Later, Rosie receives a letter telling her that she has been accepted into Boston University for the hotel management course that she wants to do. After running over to tell Alex, she overhears him and Bethany having sex and vomits into a handbag. She leaves without seeing Alex and goes to a pharmacist, saying she has been feeling nauseous lately.
The woman behind the counter, Ruby, gives her a pregnancy test which turns out to be positive despite her taking the morning after pill. Rosie decides against telling Alex after he tells her that he has been accepted by Harvard, not wanting him to stay for her. Rosie says goodbye to Alex at an airport as he heads to his university, saying she will be just behind him. Rosie gives birth to a baby girl, whom she names Katie, and decides not to give her up for adoption despite prior plans. Rosie raises Katie as a single mother.
A few months later, Rosie, with baby Katie, bumps into Bethany in the street. Bethany tells Alex, who immediately comes back to England from America to visit Rosie. The two become friends again and Alex becomes the godfather of baby Katie.
Back in America, Alex meets a girl in a bar and they soon move in together. Five years later, after Alex convinces Rosie to visit, Rosie discovers that Alex’s girlfriend is incredibly posh and snobby, taking them to an art gallery of a man named Herb. Upon telling Alex that she didn’t see them as a good couple, they fight and Rosie goes back to England. During the trip she also finds out that Alex’s girlfriend is pregnant.
Greg (who earlier moved to another country after hearing of Rosie’s pregnancy) visits Rosie at work having received her letter and a drawing by Katie. After some arguing, Rosie decides that Greg can see Katie. The three become a family and Alex then receives an invitation to Rosie’s wedding to Greg. Rosie marries Greg but notices Alex’s absence from the event. Rosie’s parents go on a trip and Rosie soon receives a call from her mother saying that Rosie’s father has died. At the funeral, Alex visits and the two reconcile. Greg is also present but noticeably drunk and rude to Alex and Rosie.
Directed by: Christian Ditter
Starring: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin, Tamsin Egerton, Suki Waterhouse, Jaime Winstone, Christian Cooke, Art Parkinson
Screenplay by; Juliette Towhidi
Production Design by: Matthew Davies
Film Editing by: Tony Cranstoun
Costume Design by: Leonie Prendergast
Set Decoration by: Judy Farr
Music by: Ralf Wengenmayr
Studio: Arcade Films
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Taglines: A comedy about acting your age and other adult decisions.
Having spent her twenties comfortably inert, 28 year old Megan (Keira Knightley) reaches a crisis when she finds herself squarely in adulthood with no career prospects, no particular motivation to pursue any and no one to relate to, including her high school boyfriend (Mark Webber). When he proposes, Megan panics and given an opportunity to escape – at least temporarily – she hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Annika’s world-weary single dad (Sam Rockwell).
Laggies (released in the United Kingdom as Say When) is a 2014 American romantic comedy film directed by Lynn Shelton and written by Andrea Seigel. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell, Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber, and Kaitlyn Dever. The film had its world premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2014.
About the Story
When 28-year-old Megan visits her 11-year high school reunion, she realizes that very little has changed in her life. She still lives with her high school boyfriend Anthony, and works as a sign flipper for her father’s accounting company. When her boyfriend proposes, she panics and crosses paths with 16-year-old Annika, who convinces her to buy her and her friends alcohol and she hangs out with them for the rest of the night. Afterwards, she realizes that she needs to take a week off from her life and lies to her boyfriend, saying that she is going to a business seminar, but instead she goes to Annika’s house and spends time there and also with Annika’s attractive, single father Craig.
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Kaitlyn Dever, Jeff Garlin, Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber, Daniel Zovatto
Screenplay by: Andrea Seigel
Production Design by: John Lavin
Cinematography by: Benjamin Kasulke
Film Editing by: Nat Sanders
Costume Design by: Ronald Leamon
Set Decoration by: Tania Kupczak
Music by: Benjamin Gibbard
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual material and teen partying.
Studio: A24 Films
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Taglines: Before love. After sex.
A no-strings-attached, online hook-up turns into a morning-after disaster for twenty-something New Yorkers Megan (Analeigh Tipton) and Alec (Miles Teller). When a paralyzing blizzard hits the city trapping them in Alec’s cramped Brooklyn apartment, they are forced to get to know each other far beyond the confines of a typical one-night stand. Marking the directorial debut of Max Nichols, Two Night Stand is a sexy, romantic comedy about finding love in the digital age.
Months after graduating from college Megan is unemployed, unattached and unable to get off the couch. Heartbroken by the collapse of her wedding engagement, she considers internet romance with limited interest. But following a chance encounter with her ex (Josh Salatin) and his new girlfriend (Kellyn Lindsay) – and egged on by her roommate Faiza (Jessica Szohr) and her boyfriend Cedric (Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi) – Megan boldly propositions Alec, a cute and funny guy she meets online, inviting herself to his apartment for her first ever one-night-stand. After a calamitously unromantic morning after, she tries to make a discreet exit only to discover that the city has been pulverized by a record-breaking snowfall that shows no sign of letting up.
Unable to leave the building, she sheepishly takes shelter with an equally mortified Alec. Forced to spend another day and night together, Megan and Alec’s first real face-to-face conversation veers from banter to bickering and back, as the provocative chemistry that lit up their online introduction quickly reignites. While rating each other’s erotic IQs, they realize they have a unique opportunity for a hands-on learning experience that inevitably leads them to a very adult snow day.
Two Night Stand is a romantic comedy film directed by Max Nichols and written by Mark Hammer. The film stars Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr, Leven Rambin and Scott Mescudi. On November 10, 2013 it was announced that there were two offers for the rights of the film in the US. Entertainment One acquired the rights to distribute the film in the US on November 21, 2013, for a release in 2014.
About the Story
Megan is unemployed and single, and one day she joins a dating website. After a bouncer refuses to let her into a club on the grounds that she is too young, she meets her ex, Chris, and decides to have a one night stand with one of the men she saw on the website, Alec. The next morning, they are less than cordial to each other, but Megan can’t leave because of a blizzard. Forced to spend more time together, the two end up telling each other what they did wrong the previous night, convinced that they will never see each other again, and Megan suggests that they “try again”.
Afterwards, Megan discovers a closet full of women’s clothes, and pictures of Alec with a girl. She finds out that Alec’s girlfriend, Daisy, had written a note to him, saying that she wanted to break up, but hadn’t given it to him, but he had found it accidentally. Alec wanted to have something to rub in her face when she broke up with him, and so he had joined the dating website. Angry, Megan leaves. When Daisy returns, she finds a note that Megan had scribbled, and she and Alec exchange the notes that they had found, and they break up.
At a New Year’s Eve party, Megan is arrested because the same note was found in Alec’s neighbor’s apartment, which the two had broken into earlier. Alec pays bail, but Megan refuses to see him or even leave the holding cell. Later, when her roommate comes to pay bail, Alec apologizes, saying that he didn’t know her last name and that this was the only way he thought he could see her again.
The film follows two people who meet online and are forced to extend their one-night stand because of a snowstorm. Perhaps surprisingly the plot would eventually mirror a natural disaster the production faced once it became time to shoot.
“The script was one out of a hundred where I thought, ‘I have to do this movie,’” said Nichols, a veteran director of music videos and son of Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols and novelist Annabel Davis-Goff. “I was intrigued from the very premise. The characters are smart and funny, but the story digs much deeper…It reminded me of coming-of-age stories from my youth.”
Nichols read the script, which appeared on the Blacklist in December, 2011, and pitched his vision of the story to producers Beau Flynn, Ruben Fleischer and Adam Yoelin. “I was shooting a Willie Nelson video in Austin, TX in May 2012 and got a call that I [was on board],” said Nichols. “We immediately started casting the film and were lucky to have a lot of talented actors and actresses who were interested, but there was something about Analeigh [Tipton’s] ‘Megan’ that caught my attention.”
Nichols said it was “essential” that her character’s ‘date’ Alec understand that “he’s never met a girl like her and can’t let her go.” Miles Teller joined the cast soon afterward as Alec and the rest of casting was completed in late summer.
About Analeigh Tipton
Watch for the brunette who drops robe in a room decorated with kitten posters in the trailer for Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s new dysfunctional relationship comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. She’s 22-year-old newcomer Analeigh Tipton, a luminous screwball presence in the star-crossed ensemble cast that includes Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, and Kevin Bacon who plays a gangly teenage babysitter awkwardly enamored with Carell’s character while also being the object of his 13-year-old son’s affections.
Growing up, Tipton was a competitive figure skater, and spent much of her youth shuttling between her family’s home inFolsom, California, and various training facilities out west, including the Olympic center in Salt Lake City, but her pairs dreams were quickly dashed when she shot up to five feet nine inches tall at the age of 16. Nevertheless, another path to international fame opened up when she was spotted on MySpace by a scout for America’s Next Top Model.
She appeared on 2008’s Cycle 11 of the reality-competition show for aspiring CoverGirls, where she may have learned a thing or two about outsize personalities during her time spent “smizing” (that’s smiling with your eyes) while suspended in couture from a ship’s rigging before she was eliminated after flubbing a commercial try.
Ford signed Tipton anyway, but her fledgling career didn’t exactly begin with a bang. “The life of a working model in L.A. kind of sucks,” she says. “I was doing a lot of Internet T-shirt modeling—chin down–type things for hours on end.” But after scoring a walk-on role opposite Seth Rogen—as a character originally dubbed “Hot Girl”—in Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet, Tipton landed her spot in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
She will also star this fall in talky cult satirist of East Coast ennui Whit Stillman’s upcoming Violet Wister’s Damsels In Distress, the director’s first feature film since 1998’s The Last Days Of Disco, in which she plays a transfer student who is taken under the wing of a type-A coed (played by Greta Gerwig) who believes that Diorissimo perfume and intellectual conversation will empower young women against the epidemic of male stupidity. Tipton and Gerwig, who is five years older, graduated from the same single-sex Catholic high school in Sacramento County. Unsurprisingly, the women had to memorize pages and pages of very precise dialogue. “Whit would stop the camera, if I added so much as an ‘um,’ ” Tipton says. Not bad for a girl who once failed to deliver an “easy, breezy, beautiful” line correctly.
Two Night Stand
Directed by: Max Nichols
Starring: Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr, Leven Rambin, Scott Mescudi, Kellyn Lindsay, Josh Salatin
Screenplay by: Mark Hammer
Production Design by: Molly Hughes
Cinematography by; Bobby Bukowski
Film Editing by: Matt Garner
Costume Design by: Amy Roth
Set Decoration by: Michael B. Lewis
Art Direction by: Nicole Eckenroad
Music by: Matthew de Luca
MPAA Rating: R for sexual material, language and some drug use.
Studio: eOne Entertainment
Release Dat: September 26, 2014
Set in Glasgow, Scotland, the film is about a girl called Eve who is in the hospital dealing with some emotional problems and starts writing songs as a way of getting better. Songwriting becomes her way forward, leading her to the City where she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own. What follows is a story of renaissance over the course of a long, dream-like Summer.
God Help the Girl is a British musical drama film written and directed by Stuart Murdoch of the band Belle and Sebastian. The film premiered in-competition in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014
The film served as the opening night film of the Generations section at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival on February 9, 2014. After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Amplify acquired the distribution rights of the film. It was released theatrically and Video on demand on September 5, 2014 in the United States.
About the Story
Eve escapes from the psychiatric hospital where she is being treated for anorexia nervosa and makes her way to Glasgow, hoping to become a musician. At a gig, she meets James, a lifeguard and aspiring songwriter. He introduces her to his guitar student Cassie, and the three become friends.
Eve meets Anton, the arrogant singer of Wobbly-Legged Rat, a Glasgow band attracting attention from a local radio station. She gives him a tape of her music to pass on and they begin seeing each other.
James convinces Eve she needs bass and drums to finish her songs. They and Cassie form a band, God Help the Girl, with some local musicians. Anton admits he never gave Eve’s tape to the radio producers, saying she needs better production and musicianship, and they argue.
James discovers Eve’s relationship with Anton and becomes distanced from her. Feeling alone, Eve takes drugs and returns to hospital. She tells James she plans to attend music college in London, and they reconcile. After God Help the Girl performs their final concert, the radio station play Eve’s tape. The next day, she leaves for London.
God Help the Girl
Directed by: Stuart Murdoch
Starring: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger. Cora Bisset, Ann Scott-Jones
Screenplay by: Stuart Murdoch
Production Design by: Mark Leese
Cinematography by: Giles Nuttgens
Film Editing by: David Arthur
Costume Design by: Denise Coombes
Art Direction by: Caroline Grebbell
MPAA Rating: None.
Release Date: September 5, 2014
Taglines: Live for Love.
Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. “If I Stay” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name.
If I Stay is an American romantic drama film directed by R. J. Cutler, based on the novel of the same name by Gayle Forman. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach, and Aisha Hinds. It was released on August 22, 2014. The film received mixed reviews from critics, grossing $78.3 million worldwide.
The music was composed by Heitor Pereira. The soundtrack was released on August 19, 2014, by WaterTower Music. It peaked at number 54 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and number 77 in Australia. All the songs for Adam Wilde’s band Willamette Stone, including the cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Today”, were produced by indie rock producer Adam Lasus.
Mia: Isn’t it amazing how life is one thing and then in an instant, it becomes something else?
Sometimes you make choices and sometimes they make you. For reserved high school cellist Mia, it comes in an instant. One snowy drive, one horrific accident, and she is forced to make a choice only she can make, one that will make this day Mia’s defining day.
That is the storyline of “If I Stay,” based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Gayle Forman. Forman’s book has gripped Young Adult readers around the world with its enthralling love story and its unflinching look at what one young girl would do in the face of a life or death crisis that suspends her between this world and the next and presents her with an impossible choice…to stay or go?
“I read it in one sitting and it shattered me,” says director R.J. Cutler. His big screen adaptation marks the documentary filmmaker’s motion picture debut. “The central premise-we are whom we love-was so evocative, so moving, I knew I had to translate the profound connection I had with those pages to film.”
The book’s global fan base includes producer Alison Greenspan, who read the galleys of Forman’s novel before it was even printed. Greenspan was equally engaged by Mia’s conflict and relationships.
“I was captivated by Gayle’s voice, and how true it was to the young experience of grappling with love: family love, romantic love and love of self. It really spoke to my heart,” she offers.
She was also completely taken with Cutler’s vision, which he revealed in a visual presentation, complete with a CD reflecting the detailed musical palette for the world revolving around star-crossed musicians.
Greenspan was familiar with Cutler’s thought-provoking and critically acclaimed documentaries that covered pop culture from politics to fashion. She followed an instinct that the combination of Forman’s material and Cutler’s inherent understanding of it was the start of something special.
An integral part of the process was finding the person who would embody Mia. Chloe Grace Moretz was drawn to the inevitable struggle with love, hope and tragedy in the book, as well as the Young Adult fan dialogue surrounding it.
“There is so much energy swirling around If I Stay, so many teenagers and YA readers are completely infatuated with this story, so it was exciting to get involved. I was really eager for the chance to try and do justice to Mia and her wrenching conflict,” explains Moretz.
“When you fall in love for the first time, it’s all new; you can hear your heart beat from across the world for that person,” she continues. “Gayle’s book depicts that beautifully and shows how love brings out all sorts of different strengths and weaknesses, particularly when a catastrophe is involved.”
The person who becomes the center of Mia’s world-and who is also at the crux of the most significant choice she will ever make-is her boyfriend, Adam, played by Jamie Blackley.
Blackley notes, “It’s such a great story. These two people find each other because they share the same passion for music, and their relationship is nuanced and complicated and really appealed to me. But then in the blink of an eye everything changes without warning. Contemplating whether you’re ever going to see someone again and be able to say everything you thought you’d always have time to say to them is quite intense.”
In addition to chemistry, capturing the spirit of the popular book in a script was another key element. Although screenwriter Shauna Cross’s repertoire had been predominantly edgy comedies, her regard for the book and her take on it was exciting to the filmmakers.
“There was a great alchemy between her hip, vibrant voice and the heartrending nature of Gayle’s,” says Greenspan. “The script is touching and sentimental, but still grounded in reality, and that’s what Shauna brought to the table.”
The producer also made a decision early on to keep Forman closely involved. Cross enjoyed the collaborative process with the author, noting, “The novel has so many layers-it’s funny and cool and heavy and uplifting. I wanted to preserve what the fans fell in love with in the first place. You have to modify things a little, but the film is still Gayle’s world and has Gayle’s Mia; it’s her Adam, parents and friends.”
The pairing of styles proved fruitful. Forman, who also serves as executive producer, attests, “This is material I know intimately and characters that have lived in my mind for years, so, as I read the screenplay or watched on set, and got that twist in my gut I knew, for me, the book’s emotional content had successfully made the transition to screen.
“It’s been a real labor of love, I think, by a remarkable team,” she goes on. “Alison has been a champion and the moment I met R.J. I knew he saw it. He completely got the music, visuals, love story, and the characters. The cast is incredible too. It’s really the full package and I think the readers will be happy.”
Cutler adds, “Regardless of whether or not you’ve read the book, ‘If I Stay’ is a love story that takes an emotional journey exploring a fundamental truth: fate may have a hand in defining us, but so does love. And the choices we make because of that love can alter everything.” Accompaniment
Mia: Why do I have a feeling you’re about to mess up my life?
Adam: A little mess never hurt anyone.
In “If I Stay,” music is the connective tissue that threads Mia Hall’s world together. It is also “a metaphor for our passions in life,” states Cutler.
Mia’s life has always been infused with a rich soundtrack, because music has always been a priority in her house. Mia’s father was the drummer in the punk band Nasty Bruises before he became a teacher. Her mother carted Mia along to his gigs as a toddler and reveres women like Blondie’s Deborah Harry. Mia’s little brother, Teddy, who is already pretty good at drums himself, idolizes Iggy Pop. But Mia wants to play the cello at Juilliard. And her heroes are Yo-Yo Ma and Beethoven.”
Mia’s parents embraced the punk ethos of living in the moment and the messiness of life and that’s just not who Mia is-she is a girl who needs order,” explains Cutler. “She craves structure and form and it’s one of the reasons she was so attracted to the cello and why the moment she met her first cello she connected with it.”
Mia began playing cello at the age of eight and, ever since her father surprised her with her very own, she and the instrument have been inseparable.
Greenspan thought Chloe Grace Moretz was Mia. She recalls, “When I met Chloe, I immediately had the sense that she would be right for the role.”
Cutler, too, had always wanted to work with Moretz and was thrilled when she came on board.
Moretz describes Mia as “very shy and sweet. She’s a regular girl, just living her life, figuring it out step by step like everybody else, faced with normal things like being insecure, wondering if she’ll get into the school she wants to get into. Unlike everyone else, however, she just happens to feel more comfortable with her cello than with people.”
Cutler says of his lead, “Chloe carried so much of the film and always came to work with such a positive attitude. When you have a star that brings it every day, everyone else brings it, too, and it makes a big difference. I was impressed by her professionalism and how she delivered at that level.”
How Mia’s story was told intrigued Moretz even more: in flashbacks, as Mia weighs her life and relationships. “The structure was such an interesting way to frame this character. It required going through such a range of events and emotions at different times in her life. It was nice exploring those dimensions.”
Cutler remarks, “Although Mia’s family and friends are unaware of her presence, Chloe was able to evoke a tangible connection with the other characters in a way that was truly remarkable.”
Being present but unseen was one challenge for the actress. She admits the mere physical aspect of portraying an accomplished cellist was another, particularly since Moretz had never played any instrument before in her life.
Moretz spent time studying classically trained cellists to prepare for the role. She relates, “There is something so raw and beautiful about a cello because cellists literally sing through their instruments. You can hear them breathing with each bow stroke, and every time they put their finger on a new note a new part of their body moves.”
She noticed many of the cellists she met were introverted-until they began to play. “It was fascinating to watch them transform before my eyes. They become so animated and so passionate through this instrument. And that helped me with Mia, because Mia speaks through her cello,” says Moretz.
Cutler notes, “One of the things Chloe did so beautifully was capturing the essence of what it means to already be a virtuoso cellist at the age of 17. Her performance is persuasive and conveys that love of music. She really channeled the great cellists she studied.”
The director arranged for lessons with a cello instructor via Skype and in person during the busy months before Moretz would start “If I Stay.” He also wanted Moretz to have access to a cello-no matter where she was in the world.
And Moretz was all over the world. “I’d come to these new locations and there’d always be this instrument lurking around, following me. From Leipzig, Germany to the middle of Louisiana, the hotel staff would give me a strange look and say, ‘Ma’am, there’s a cello for you downstairs,'” Moretz laughs. “But actually living with it constantly made a difference since, for cellists, it really is an extension of their body.”
Although Mia has only been playing for ten years, she already seems destined for great things…and then she meets the front man for a band whose star is also on the rise.
British actor Jamie Blackley stars as the unlikely rocker who can’t resist the shy girl he hears playing the cello one day at school.
Cutler says, “When Jamie sang for us he blew us away and when he and Chloe read together we all had tears in our eyes. We all felt the same way; we had our guy.”
Greenspan adds, “I knew he had made his big break in ‘Spring Awakening’ in London, which is vocally rigorous, but listening to him sing and watching him interact in character with Chloe was incredible-the electricity in the room was palpable.”
Blackley couldn’t resist stepping into the boots of the up-and-coming musician-and onto a stage behind a microphone and guitar. “I thought it would be nice to be a rock star for a bit,” he smiles.
Cutler says, “Adam is talented beyond his years and going places and I think Jamie is, too. He’s an incredible actor and really puts a hundred percent into it. We were lucky he walked in that door.”
Greenspan also thinks they were fortunate. “Women like men who are a combination of tough and sensitive. Jamie is the perfect blend of good looks and beautiful emotions. He immediately became Adam.”
Adam and Mia don’t travel in the same circles. He’s super cool. She’s just…not. But when Adam hears Mia rehearsing, he is so mesmerized by the soulful sound he has to follow it.
“She’s like his muse. Adam doesn’t even see her at first; he’s just compelled to seek her out,” says Cutler.
“When you first meet Mia, all she has is this cello and the goal of Juilliard,” says Moretz. “No guy is going to get in the way of that. Adam comes in and pretty much flips Mia’s world on end. I mean, here’s this guy who’s a total god: he’s sexy, he sings, he plays the guitar…he’s every teenage girl’s dream.”
Although it’s a completely different style of music, Adam can’t stop watching Mia play because he can see who she really is when she lets go. Blackley notes, “It’s the music that really brings them together at first. He’s obsessed with it and he can see Mia is as well. I think when someone is good at something or cares about something, it’s insanely attractive. That goes for both of them, too, because they see each other’s passion through their respective music and that’s quite exciting for them.”
Moretz agrees that instead of love at first sight it’s love at first sound. “Mia feels the music in the core of her being, the same way Adam feels the music, and that’s intoxicating. It forges a passionate bond between them, despite how different they are, and that’s what makes them fall in love so far so fast.”
Blackley and Moretz shared a mutual professional admiration from the start. “It was such a pleasure doing our scenes because Jamie’s a brilliant actor. Our relationship felt organic and natural,” says Moretz.
Blackley, who reveals he had been a fan of Moretz’s for some time, remarks, “It doesn’t hurt that we just get on well, and laughed a lot. It was cool to actually work with Chloe.”
Mia and Adam may come from different sides of the music tracks, but it is possible for them to meet somewhere in the middle largely because of Mia’s family, who have more in common with Adam’s musical tastes than Mia.
Blackley explains, “Adam doesn’t have a family life, really, so when he goes around to their house the first time for a family dinner it’s something he’s never really experienced before. I think when he sees Mia with them he gets why she understands him so well, and did from the start.”
Mireille Enos stars in the role of Mia’s laid back mother, Kat. A travel agent since surrendering her mosh pit world for parenthood, Kat still throws bashes attended by her husband’s former band mates. “Music runs in their veins and it’s what moves them,” Enos states, revealing, “I wasn’t all that familiar with punk rock before shooting, but in researching it for the role, realized I actually liked it.”
She continues, “It’s interesting that Mia’s parents were the counterculture and now Mia is the counterculture to their world. And Adam is another version of her parent’s counterculture. So the circle continues.”
Joshua Leonard plays Denny, Mia’s still-punk-at-heart father who got a grown-up job as a teacher when the family started multiplying. Leonard reveals he is an ex-punker himself, one of only a handful of rebel kids growing up in a small suburban Pennsylvania town who listened to the genre.
He describes how the authenticity resonated with him from the start. “The first day we shot the family kitchen scene that opens the movie. R.J. had Richard Hell’s ‘Blank Generation’ blasting, a punk classic emblematic of who this family is and what kind of beat they move to-it was just one of the details that rang true to me. R.J. got the punk down…right down to the t-shirts. He’s smart as hell and a great dude.”
Although he plays a songwriter/drummer, Leonard had never played drums, so he rented a drum kit and took lessons. Jakob Davies portrays the youngest in their brood, Teddy, who is already a drummer, just like his father. Davies also took some drum lessons for his role.
Both Enos and Leonard were drawn to the cool parents whose commitment to each other is the basis of the close-knit family. “Part of what I love so much about Kat and Denny is they did have their own hopes and dreams and they wound up with this family a little unexpectedly, yet completely embraced it. No regrets. Kat and Denny love being parents,” says Leonard.
Enos adds, “They love and support each other, and they have always loved and supported Mia, especially with her musical aspirations. That love and support is their real gift to her. It’s the most important thing she needs to get through life.”
“Sometimes as a director you have this experience watching wonderful actors perform and you think to yourself, ‘there’s nothing to say, but what a privilege to be able to watch it,'” says Cutler.
Keach describes Gramps as “a hard worker, raised on a farm. He’s straightforward, sometimes gruff, and can be impatient, but he’s basically a generous, loving person.”
Gramp’s world does not revolve around music. But he does love his granddaughter and realizes she has a gift. “He’s not well-versed in the arts so he never encouraged his son to do the thing he wanted to do,” Keach allows. “He never gave Denny the emotional support that was required. I think he realizes Mia’s musical trek is his chance to make up for that.”
Mia’s extended family includes her best friend, Kim, played by Liana Liberato, whose wry humor keeps her in check; and her parent’s best friends, Willow and Henry, played by Lauren Lee Smith and Adam Solomonian, respectively, who are there for every big event in her life. And as Mia is hovering between this world and the next, revisiting memories and contemplating her relationships, Aisha Hinds, in the role of Nurse Ramirez, is determined to watch over Mia’s corporal being and bolster her will to fight.
“We were fortunate to have this wonderful ensemble that melded together so convincingly. You really invest in this offbeat family,” Greenspan states.
Cutler adds, “It’s hard to believe this group of people isn’t genetically linked because they fit together so naturally. Once you spend time with this family it complicates the stakes of Mia’s central decision as she asks herself, in the words of The Clash, ‘Should I stay or should I go?'” Bridge
Adam: Promise me we’ll spend New Year’s together next year. No matter where you are, no matter where I am.
Mia: Even if we’re in different places you’ll still be with me.
“If I Stay” was shot in practical locations in and around Vancouver, which doubled for outside of Portland, Oregon, during the fall and winter.
Cutler turned to cinematographer John de Borman and production designer Brent Thomas to execute his vision of two very distinct styles reflecting the two interwoven narrative planes of the story structure: Mia’s past memories, which tell the story of her romance with her Adam and her cello; and the present, the day the accident takes place.
“John de Borman was at his finest on a number of levels in this film. The richer color scheme for Mia’s past memories was quite a contrast to the almost monochromatic present day, which was exactly what I had envisioned in my head,” relates the director.
The sparse present-day sets a detached tone that goes hand-in-hand with Mia’s physical limitations. “In the present, Mia has an out-of-body experience. I accept that fully. Who am I to say there isn’t more?” Cutler posits, revealing he did a lot of reading about the phenomenon while fine tuning his strategy for depicting it.
Greenspan recalls, “One of the first things R.J. told me was he didn’t want this to be about visual effects. He didn’t want a character that walked through walls. He wanted it to be as grounded and real and emotional.”
To achieve that, de Borman used long lenses and shallow depth of field to give a feeling of Mia’s isolation. Another tool was a Steadicam, to create Mia’s perspective, so viewers would feel as if she is moving around the hospital in ways that wouldn’t be humanly possible.
One of Cutler’s favorite scenes is the moment where all of Mia’s family and friends first learn of her status from a doctor and a social worker. “You come floating into the scene and watch the entire thing from a specific point of view, but you don’t know at first whose point of view it is.”
Cutler dictated that only a specific vivid primary color disrupt the monochromatic post-accident present in which Mia watches and reacts without being seen: the red blood at the accident, the blue tones in the hospital.
The hospital becomes the primary location as the drama unfolds in the aftermath of the horrific accident. Thomas and his design team built the hospital set in the former psychiatric ward of an abandoned medical facility, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, making four separate locations on the grounds look like one cohesive unit.
In the overall design, they played a lot with glass and reflection, to represent a barrier between the real world and Mia’s in-between existence.
Thomas also designed transitional sequences at the hospital, with Mia in a glass walkway, based on an interesting photograph he found. It allowed the director to clearly represent that she is trapped between here and there.
Echoing the camera work, Thomas also utilized color: cool hues to cue the viewer they are in the present, and a fuller color prism for Mia’s pre-accident memories.
One major set piece that appears throughout Mia’s memories is her house. Thomas found the residence in New Westminster, a city just outside of Vancouver. “It was important to keep the look genuine and authentic, not affected.”
To reinforce the theme of choices creating change, the house starts with one look, and as Kat and Denny go through transitions and build a family, the feel of the house also evolves. However, one recurring color used as a prescient symbol for death or change was purple. “You see it right off the bat, center frame, the very first time we see Mia’s home, it’s the front door,” says Thomas.
Gayle Forman wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of feelings that overwhelmed her when she first stepped into the house. “I cried. I couldn’t help it; it was just so perfect. The quirky dynamic of the family was completely there. This place had been inside my head, and here it was, and I was standing in it,” she shares.
Cutler notes, “It was an honor to have Gayle there. It also gave us the opportunity to pick her brain. She gave birth to the world, so it was great to be able to get it right in her eyes.”
Overall, Cutler impressed a central concept upon his entire team that the story is being seen through Mia’s eyes.
One very prominent memory of Mia’s is her Juilliard audition in San Francisco. Vancouver’s historic Orpheum concert theatre doubled for the fictional Jolari Hall. As Mia plays Camille Saint-Saens “Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 33” better than she has ever played in her life, it is bittersweet because she is torn between exhilaration and the feeling that she is starting a new path that is taking her further away from Adam.
For Mia’s classical music scenes, Moretz and cellist Haigan Day, who served as Moretz’s photo double, were both filmed performing and then composited in post-production.
At Cutler’s direction, the art department designed a new oval ceiling mosaic that was digitally composited onto the ceiling of the Orpheum concert hall. The recognizable image is replicated later in a pivotal moment that demonstrates the depth of Adam’s feelings for Mia.
Earlier, for their first date, Adam takes Mia to see one of her idols, renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, in a scene shot at the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia.
As Mia is pursuing her Juilliard dream, Adam is chasing his own dream, and his band, Willamette Stone, is gaining popularity. Their shows required dressing Vancouver locations as well as staging crowd sequences. Since the club scenes show the ascendance of the band, the locations and sizes mirrored that. “The initial club where Mia sees Adam perform for the first time wasn’t even an actual club, rather a dingy kitchen area of what used to be an old restaurant, and it progressed from there,” says Thomas.
Cutler turned to John Carrafa, with whom he’s worked since his theatre days, to stage the musical scenes. “He did a wonderful job staging the band as well as the audiences. I think the crowds are so authentic, you really feel like you’re in those spaces.”
Cutler and his music team took care to produce all the music, both rock and classical, so it felt organic to each space, from a small dive to the concert hall at Juilliard. He offers, “It was very important to us that whether you’re in the small club with Adam, or with Mia at Juilliard in a beautiful big hall, that you feel you’re really there.”
As the film progresses the success of Adam’s band grows, culminating with a performance filmed at Rickshaw, Vancouver’s large, popular alternative rock club.
Cutler notes, “All my departments-art, lighting, wardrobe, extras casting-had to work together to illustrate this story arc and I think they did an incredible job.”
One Willamette Stone show in particular is not only a major milestone for Adam’s band, but one for Mia as well. Set during Halloween and filmed at the Cobalt night club, it’s the first time Mia lets go, dancing along in a frenetic crowd dressed in an array of costumes. For once, she doesn’t feel like the outsider in Adam’s hip world.
Greenspan says, “The Halloween concert is really where Mia comes into her own. She thinks it’s the sexy costume she’s wearing but it’s really Adam’s performance on that stage that makes her shake it up. I love that it’s not some kind of artificial tool that gets her to let her hair down but Adam’s connection to his music. It’s not about how she looks; it’s who she is that he loves. It’s a highpoint in their relationship.”
Adam’s period costume was a nod to Mia’s favorite composer, Beethoven. Costume designer Monique Prudhomme designed Mia’s ensemble to differ greatly from her daily look and comfort zone while illustrating a nice connection with her mom.
While Prudhomme did not base it on any one rocker, she acknowledges, “I took inspiration from the world of Blondie: a white china doll bob-cut wig, leopard top, very short skirt with side buckles, fishnet hose and super high red faux lizard pumps. The look resembled her mom’s when she used to go clubbing. Mother and daughter put this outfit together with clothes from Kat’s past, so it also had to look like it actually would be in Kat’s closet.”
Conversely, Mia’s closet has very simple clothes in it, almost neutral to contrast with her mother’s colorful wardrobe, conveying an effortless simplicity. Moretz’s costume for the accident and afterward in the hospital, a light layered top with a lace ballet skirt, which she remains in as she hovers between worlds, was designed to convey an ethereal feeling of lightness and transparency.
Blakeley’s wardrobe was conceived to reflect a subtle change in Adam’s coming of age as a man and musician. However, Adam’s most distinctive and telling accessory is his guitar: a Fender Jaguar Electric Guitar in live performance scenes and a Fender Guild Acoustic for the acoustic songs.
Mia’s cello in the film is a modern Romanian model instrument by Ian Moar, a local Vancouver luthier. Moar altered the top and back plates of the instrument and then finished it with a multi-layered oil varnish to give it an antiqued appearance. In addition, a petite 7/8 size Moar cello, a perfect fit for Moretz, but very uncommon and hard to find, was located for the actress.
Prudhomme had to dress Mia’s parents as both punkers in their youth and as dedicated parents almost two decades later, making a living to support their family. “Their look is a combination of what they were and what they have become, more tame but still fun and unconventional: a mixture of off-beat fashion trends of the last 20 years, which also needed to be different from Adam’s band and groups of the present,” she notes.
One of the more sentimental costume choices was using a vintage leather jacket Gayle Forman’s husband had worn in his punk days. It was shipped from Brooklyn for Joshua Leonard to wear in his Nasty Bruises drummer period.
Adam: When I was eight I saw this old video of the Ramones playing “I Wanna Be Sedated.” And it felt like my head exploded. And I was like, “I have to learn how to play the guitar.”
“If I Stay” opens with a Cello Sonata by Beethoven and riffs through an array of music including Zoltan Kodaly, Bach, Buzzcocks, Beck, Sonic Youth, Blondie, Iggy Pop, and The Dandy Warhols, to name a few.
“Music is an undeniably critical element in and of itself in this film and that created a wonderful opportunity for me,” says Cutler. “Telling stories about people who play music and who sing allows you to enhance the narrative in many different ways. You’re dealing with the content of the lyrics, the nature of the performance, and the tone of the actual scene itself. It’s really exciting to get things that function on all of those levels when you find exactly the right piece of music and put it together in exactly the right way.”
Cutler set the musical tone early, giving MP3 players to his cast loaded with playlists that their characters would be listening to, since “they are defined by the music they love,” he explains.
Moretz received one filled with music from the classical genre, as well as contemporary music that incorporated classical instruments, like Nirvana’s “Unplugged.” Cutler also included a lot of Kat and Denny’s favorite music, which Mia grew up on: The Clash, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, as well as more contemporary Pacific Northwest-based music that would likely be in the world around her.
Blackley’s playlist overlapped Moretz’s, but with less classical and more of a foundation in Punk and Grunge. Enos and Leonard’s were loaded with the music of Kat and Denny’s youth-Punk, New Wave, Grunge, and a good deal of grunge-influenced music.
Cutler also worked very closely with music supervisor Linda Cohen and the film’s composer, Heitor Pereira. They listened to hundreds of songs-some that had been written for them, some that bands had just never recorded-on a search for the five songs that Adam’s band would perform.
Adam’s musical roots, which influence Willamette Stone, begin with the Ramones. This was the point of origin that influenced Cutler’s choices for the band.
Cutler notes, “Adam’s band’s music is a kind of raw rock ‘n’ roll that has great passion and articulates a relationship to punk with a certain rage. Of course, because they’re from Portland, there’s also a relationship to grunge, so there’s a relationship to pop as well. It’s a really great merge of sounds. And Jamie and the band crushed it.”
Blackley and the other members of Willamette Stone-Ben Klassen, Ran Stephenson, Tom Vanderkam, along with keyboard player Ali Milner as Adam’s friend, Liz-arrived in Toronto weeks before the start of production to practice songs and record them for playback later in actual scenes.
“It’s fun to get up on stage and mess up your hair and have a little head bang,” Blackley smiles. “It’s mad, a total adrenaline rush.”
Although Blackley actually plays guitar and sings, he brushed up with lessons from Simon Tong, who played in the band Gorillaz. The first time Blackley got to perform the music was a pivotal scene which takes place at a Labor Day party at Mia’s house. The day Mia remembers in her retrospective state as her favorite day was also one of Blackley’s favorite scenes. Adam and his band mates play guitar with Mia’s father and his musician friends gathered around a bonfire in Mia’s backyard.
Blackley recalls, “That was really fun to film because we had worked so hard on the music.”
Adam brings out Mia’s cello and pulls her into the impromptu jam and, for the first time, she and Adam are finally playing music together, melding her classical music with his.
“It’s very symbolic. It’s like they are intertwining all the aspects of their lives,” says Moretz.
Forman relates, “Being able to actually viscerally experience watching Mia play the cello or seeing Adam and Mia actually jam together was a million times better than it could ever be in the book or in my head. I think the music is really going to resonate with viewers.”
The songs are touchstones in Mia’s memories as she studies her past in the in-between world and reflects on the complex twists and turns in her relationship with Adam.
“It’s really beautiful how R.J. infused music into every aspect of making this movie,” Moretz notes, “You hear their love story; it’s completely encompassed in the songs.”
Cutler reflects, “These two people who are deeply in love with each other, and really connected could be torn apart for no other reason than that they are fully pursuing who they are.
“Life is messy. There isn’t just one path. It’s all the joy that comes from the surprises that it has in store for you and all the tragedy that comes from those surprises. What Mia learns on her journey with Adam is invaluable and helps her make her ultimate choice.”
If I Stay
Directed by: R.J. Cutler
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Ali Milner, Aisha Hinds
Screenplay by: Shauna Cross, Gayle Forman
Production Design by: Brent Thomas
Cinematography by: John de Borman
Film Editing by: Keith Henderson
Costume Design by: Monique Prudhomme
Set Decoration by: Louise Roper
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, New Line Cinema
Release Date: August 22, 2014