Ah, the cinema of unfinished business. This proves to be a huge hit for Hollywood. In terms of storytelling, it’s also a formidable device. The unfinished business of a character hinders him or her from getting to the story climax fast. The delay, therefore, brings about the story’s meat and teeth.
Such is the structure of the film If I Stay. This one proves that unfinished business not only happens to the living, but also to the nearly-dead. It’s the story of a teenage girl who figures into a vehicular accident with her family. While her earthly body is comatose in an ICU, her spirit wanders and tries to figure out what to do next – to go to the afterlife, or go back to life.
This very intriguing film came out in 2014. It’s based on a neatly-written young adult novel by Gayle Forman. And it’s not the sole out-of-body with unfinished business narrative that you’ll see in Hollywood. Check out our list of movies like If I Stay to know more.
1 Just Like Heaven
If it’s unfinished business you want, especially in a romantic comedy film, then go see Just Like Heaven. It’s just apt to be here in our list of movies like If I Stay.
This 2005 movie stars Reese Witherspoon as Elizabeth, a young workaholic doctor. She figures into a vehicular accident and lands in a coma. Her co-star, Mark Ruffalo, plays David, a widower architect looking for a new apartment. He happens to find Elizabeth’s former apartment, and rents it.
Trouble starts for him when she begins appearing in her own apartment – in the form of a ghostly spirit. But she doesn’t know that – yet! David figures it out, and together, they figure out that she has unfinished business in life. What will happen next?
This film is very interesting and gives a happy rom-com to the unfinished business storyline. Go watch!
Perhaps no other movie quite defines “unfinished business” more than the 1009 global hit Ghost.
The 1990 film stars Demi Moore in her iconic role as Molly, the artist engaged to banker Sam, played by Patrick Swayze. The young couple is starting a better life in a new New York apartment when he gets shot during a robbery.
Sam dies, but his spirit lingers on with Molly, unknown to her. He finds the help of a wacky seer, Oda Mae Brown, played brilliantly by Whoopi Goldberg. Through Sam’s spiritual efforts, he tracks down the robber, but finds something odd. This simple robbery turns out to be a mysterious murder, and the drama begins to turn into a whodunit narrative.
Now you know why this is in our list of movies like If I Stay. This interesting film should be on your watch list! Go watch it, if you haven’t yet.
3 Heart and Souls
If there’s unfinished business by one character in our featured movie, try four! Heart and Souls earns its place in our list of movies like If I Stay just because of that!
The 1993 comedy stars Robert Downey, Jr. Yes, before Ironman was Ironman, he was a charming lead actor in movies like these. He plays a coldhearted banker here, who had four souls with unfinished business “attached” to him when he was young. They disappeared when their appearance was making the young boy’s parents suspicious of his psychological temperament.
But when that boy grew up, the four souls with unfinished business reappears. It’s up to the grown-up boy now to help them fulfil their tasks. Will he or won’t he? Watch this very entertaining film to find out!
4 The Lovely Bones
The 2009 movie The Lovely Bones is here in our list of movies like If I Stay because it has a clear-cut “unfinished business” narrative. The difference is, like Ghost, the spirit with an unfinished business has already passed away. Nonetheless, the story holds stronger with this fact.
The film stars Saoirse Rionan as the teenager Susie Salmon, the one with the “unfinished business.” Basically, it’s to help her family move on, after she goes missing. Later, she is declared as dead, but her family doesn’t know what happened to her. But they suspect that she was abducted and killed by a neighbor – which turns out to be true.
Susie finds herself in between a place that’s not heaven nor purgatory. In it, she also meets up some girls who are in her same state. Later, it is revealed that these girls also shared the same fate as hers.
Based on a popular young adult novel, The Lovely Bones has a great formidable cast and interesting story. Go watch it.
5 The Sixth Sense
Another interesting movie in our list of movies like If I Stay is, of course, The Sixth Sense.
The 1999 cult film by M. Night Shyamalan stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist named Malcolm. He figures into an altercation with a former patient of his, who accused him of failure. Later on, he also encounters a new child patient named Cole.
Due to the stress in his work and career, Malcolm tries to make changes while seeing Cole. But he also has a problem understanding Cole’s condition, because the young child “sees dead people.” Not only see, but he can communicate with them as well!
It’s hard to summarize this film and pinpoint where the unfinished business here is. You oughta find out for yourself! We guarantee the suspense, and the great twist at the end. Go watch!
6 Heaven Can Wait
A sports-oriented movie in our list of movies like If I Stay is the 1978 comedy Heaven Can Wait. This one stars a younger Warren Beatty, playing the role of Joe, a quarterback who is poised to lead his football team to the Superbowl.
Of course, fate plays a trick – or makes a mistake – and a bumbling angel takes Joe’s spirit ahead of time. However, he can’t return the body because they already cremated it back on earth. So the next step is to find a recently deceased person that Joe could “inhabit.”
And why does he need to be in a new body? It’s so he can fulfil his unfinished business on earth – lead his team to victory. Will he be able to make it or not? Watch this classic funny and find out!
7 Over Her Dead Body
If there’s a comedic take on an unfinished business, it’s this 2008 film Over Her Dead Body. See why it makes it to our list of movies like If I Stay!
The film stars Eva Longoria as Kate, a would-be bride who had an accident and died, while on her way to the wedding! Paul Rudd plays Henry, the beleaguered groom, who found it hard to move on after his girl’s death. To help him move on, his sister employs the help of a pseudo-psychic named Ashley. But what happens is that Henry fell in love with Ashley instead!
Of course, this earns the ire of the soul with the unfinished business! Kate revisits Henry and Ashley from time to time. But the pseudo-psychic Ashley can actually hear Kate’s spirit! So Kate torments Ashley, hoping this will break up Ashley’s relationship with Henry. Oh, such a convoluted mess!
Watch it to find out what happens in the end!
8 Ghost Town
It’s one thing for one soul to have unfinished business, but it’s another to have a whole town of them! That’s the interesting pith of the movie Ghost Town. And that’s why it’s here in our list of movies like If I Stay.
This 2008 comedy is on our list of movies like If I Stay. Ricky Gervais plays Bertram, a dentist who seems to be able to see and communicate with dead people all around town. One of these dead people is Frank, a spirit with some unfinished business. He urges Bertram to break off his wife’s engagement with another man.
Bertram agrees to this ruse. But he somehow discovers things are not what they seem. Is this the real unfinished business of his ghostly friend? Watch this funny one to find out!
Another one of those movies like If I Stay is the 2008 film Passengers, starring Anne Hathaway. She plays a psychotherapist who starts seeing a group of people who have survived a plane crash.
During their sessions, though, the handful of patients she receives slowly stop coming to her sessions. She also develops feelings for one of them. Then there’s an issue about how the airlines is trying to cover up the real reason for the plane’s crashing. This seemingly convoluted storyline all plays into one grand and surprising reveal towards the end.
Try to see what’s intriguing with this film!
What if you died, your body never recovered, but you have unfinished business you’re your husband? Will you communicate with him, or not? This is the pitch of the 2002 movie called Dragonfly.
This Kevin Costner starrer is one of those movies like If I Stay precisely because there is an unknown unfinished business happening. His character, Joe, is a doctor whose wife died in an overseas trip. But he starts seeing clues of her around him, whether at the hospital where he works or at home.
Joe then begins to suspect that his wife’s death is not yet resolved. So he tries to face the haunting clues and even travels to South America to follow her trail. What do you think he will find there? Watch the film to find out!