If I Stay (2014)


If I Stay

There are some movies you see merely because it’s bending to peer pressure. This was really one of those movies for me – I wasn’t all that interested especially since common sense told me the ending wouldn’t be to my liking. What I discovered was something altogether lovely even if not the most well rounded kind of story.   

Mia (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) doesn’t really know who she is. She is a part of a family that is different from her and that’s always made her feel like something of an outsider. Her parents were rockers and Mia grew up as a “groupie” while her then-musician of a father (Joshua Leonard) toured with his band. Now he’s a teacher, her mother (Mireille Enos) a travel agent and her little brother Teddy (Jakob Davies) looks just like their parents. Mia loves classical music and never played better in her entire life than when she played her audition for Julliard. Then there is Adam (Jamie Blackley).

Adam is the boy who knew exactly who he is two years ago when Mia meant him. Their romance has been perfect since then – an all-consuming kind of love of the best kind, only of late there have been bumps and bruises. Not the least of which is the possibility Mia could move to New York. Today, weeks since Mia last saw Adam is about to change her life forever. Letters from Julliard, lunches with her best friend (Liana Liberato) or laughs with her family will no longer govern her life. An accident involving her entire family strips that all away and as Mia watches her present shatter, must decide one very important thing. 
 
If I Stay

Like all book-to-movie adaptations in recent years, I managed to read this book the week the DVD released and as usual am happy that I did. The experience has been something I’d recommend now looking back (within reason) and for me reading the book, made the movie really seem better than it might have been had I skipped the book (which I really didn’t have time to read if I’m being honest). As an adaptation, this impressed me. Throughout I was able to pick out familiar scenes and seeing them come alive so faithfully is a great cinematic experience although there are changes to the timeline (in setting the story up) that I suspect was tweaked in order to ramp up the suspense of not knowing what happened to Mia’s family. Those who did not read the book wouldn’t know a difference, plus even for us who did read the novel, it’s a nice change of pace as we are left hanging, wondering if there’s a possibility the script changed. There is always a chance that could happen, and it’s something to hang onto.

If I Stay

In an emotion fueled film, the acting rises to the occasion and is really quite elegantly portrayed. Surprisingly if there was one person I’d point to as being the “weaker” link, it’d be Chloe. Maybe this is merely because going in, I expected her to blow us away with her portrayal of Mia when in reality it seemed like she wasn’t giving her all to the emotion of the character at interval and pivotal moments. Regardless, I really did think the film was beautiful in its own way and paid homage to its source material wonderfully. I think that’s something every fangirl of Gayle Forman’s novel (of the same name) was wishing, hoping and holding out for. It’s nice to see Mia’s past interspersed with her present same methods as the book used since that’s what worked so very well in book form and fortunately it did also in cinematic form – it’s nice to see the scenes with Mia’s family and her developing romance with Adam.  

Fans of the book (I think) will be pleased with this adaptation. The script doesn’t shy away from following the path the book lays out (though to create more tension, the timeline does waver) and for that reason alone I admire the adaptation. There is always a sliver of hope that a movie will be kinder and give the viewer a more solid ending, this movie does not. It’s beautiful when it needs to be, heartbreaking when warranted (some of the voiceover dialogue is beautiful and guys, I did almost lose it once near the end of this one) and takes a lighter approach to the drama by breaking away from the present just when it should. When this happens, most the time it’s when we’re fully engrossed in Mia’s present decision, whether or not to stay or go, as Mia tells us, it’s up to her. The stories defining question is: does Mia want to stay? 

(Rated PG13: there are two bedroom scenes. One stops at kissing and lying back onto the bed, the other involves kissing and removal of clothing before it skips ahead to the couple lying in bed together. Some mild profanity crops up and there are tense scenes involving medical personal trying to save their patients, etc.)
 
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Rissi
16 Comments

16 comments:

  1. The movie was one of the best book to screen in my opinion and my 14 year olds. We really liked it and love Chloe as Mia. The soundtrack is really good. I can listen to the cello playing all day long (which is good since I have a little cello player in the home). After seeing the movie it made me grabbed Where She Went off the bookcase. Don't have time to read it but making the time since now I'm like I want to reread it. I read both books a long long time ago when they first came out.

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    1. I'm glad you and your daughter liked it, Shannon. I did too - surprisingly so. It has a lot of good things to say and I admire that in any story. It's one I'll rewatch now and again plus definitely made me want to read the sequel! :)

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  2. This might be the perfect way to spend my Sunday! Great review!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. If you watched it, Missie, I hope you enjoyed it. I thought it was quite entertaining if not bittersweet. :)

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  3. You seriously have the best reviews of movies and books. This is one I would watch if I had the chance.

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    1. Ooh, I hope you enjoy it, Maria. It's bittersweet in a way, but very good. Thank you so much for the kind words - THANK YOU bunches for being a reader. It a big part of the reason I've kept a consistent blog. :)

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  4. I'm glad you liked it! I'm still hesitant on watching it, but based off your words I rather read the book first if I decide too!

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    1. That's a good plan, Laura. It's not a story/movie for everyone, but it's a bittersweet tale that took me by surprise. I liked it more than I thought and that was enough for a new movie to rent. :)

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  5. I enjoyed both the book and the movie, and thought it was a good adaptation. I'm actually not a huge fan of Chloe Grace Moretz, for some reason, so she kind of throws it off for me. I thought the rest of the cast was really good, though, and liked that they made some suspense, even for people who knew the story. I'll be curious to see whether they do Where She Went or not, since I thought it was quite a bit better than If I Stay. Great review, Rissi!! :D

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    1. This might have been the first thing I've seen Chloe in... or maybe I saw her in something when she was a kid. I'm not sure. Either way, I just didn't think her performance packed the punch I was expecting. But then, maybe that's why she didn't hold that kind of performance - because I had too high of expectations. She didn't ruin it for me and I did indeed like the film as well as the rest of the cast! I agree, this was a great adaptation and while I'd love to see an adaptation of Where She Went, I'm not holding my breath. Sadly, I don't think this film did well at the box office.

      Thanks for reading, Rachel. :)

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  6. Great review of the movie! I dunno if I was thinking of watching it at the time that I read the book, but after seeing it in the store today I think I may have to =P

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    1. Yes, yes you will, girl! I think you'd really enjoy it (if you liked the book) because it's really good adaptation of the book. That is always a huge plus!

      Hope you like it if/when you see it. Thanks for reading. :)

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  7. Awesome review! I've been wanting to check out this movie for a while but just haven't gotten around to it. Hopefully soon! But knowing what you said about the book, maybe I'll take the time to read it before watching the movie. :)

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    1. Thanks for reading, Bekah! I'm always happy to read your comments. :)

      If/when you read/watch If I Stay, I hope you like it. This one definitely surprised me, in a good way and it will be one I see again. Such an "easy" story to like, really. :)

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    2. I finally watched the movie! I liked it...but it made me cry like a baby. Haha! It was definitely surprising, like you said. I'm really interested in "Where She Went" now...the movie ended off in a bit of a cliffhanger IMO. Wonder if they're making a sequel? :)

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    3. I got teary-eyed too, Bekah! More so than the book anyway. I'm definitely going to read Where She Went (probably in early 2015) just to hopefully find more resolution to the story. As for a movie sequel, I don't see that happening. At least not soon since this film didn't do as well as filmmakers hoped.

      Glad you enjoyed it! :)

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