Movie Review: IF I STAY!
About a week or two ago, I took my niece to see If I Stay. I was a fan of the book when I read it a few years back, so I was excited to see the movie. Unfortunately, I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I know that I seem to be in the minority with this, but I left the theater feeling kind of "eh" about the whole thing, which I was not expecting.
I should probably explain.
See, If I Stay wasn't a bad movie. Not at all. But something was off, and even now, I can't figure out what it was. The performances were generally good - even Chloe ended up surprising me - but I couldn't help but to feel that the parents overshadowed everyone. It was their scenes that stuck with me after the movie, not Adam & Mia.
The screenwriter did a wonderful job of adapting the book. I was worried that the flashback scenes wouldn't exactly work on the big screen. I mean, the book doesn't have chapters for clear cut off points, so it definitely isn't an easy book to adapt, but I feel as though Shauna Cross did a great job adapting Forman's work. Which is why I'm surprised I didn't fall in love with the movie like I did the book.
One of the things I'm really happy they kept was the ending. I was worried that they'd try to give it more of a conclusive ending as opposed to the open ending Forman wrote for the end of the novel, but thankfully, they didn't. Yes, there's another book. And yes, I wouldn't be surprised if Where She Went gets announced at some point. (If I Stay was made on a $11 million budget, which is small, and has earned $50 million worldwide so far. Not fantastic, but decent.) But I was really worried about how they would tackle the ending, and thankfully, my worry ended up being over nothing.
As for the performances...
When it comes to Young Adult adaptions that have come out over the past couple of years, I can honestly say that If I Stay had some of the best performances. I hadn't heard of Jamie Blackley before he was cast as Adam, and I'll admit, I was worried he wouldn't be able to capture Adam properly, but he surprised me. Was he as great as Chloe? No, but he was a good pick for Adam. Now, for those of you that have been following If I Stay into production from back when Summit had the rights probably know that Dakota Fanning was originally attached to play Mia. I was completely sold on this casting back then, and I was seriously bummed when Summit ended up not moving forward with the movie, but I think it was for the best. Because although Dakota is a fantastic actress, I can only see Chloe as Mia now. She was a great choice for the role, and I feel as through she handled the emotional scenes wonderfully.
But I think the best performances were actually from the parents (played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) and the grandfather (played by Stacy Keach). Their scenes were the best parts of the movie, something that I definitely wasn't expecting. In fact, if I'm being honest, the scenes with Mia's parents and Gramps made me more teary than anything else.
When all is said and done, I did enjoy If I Stay. I didn't love it, but I did enjoy it. Also worth noting? The music is actually pretty good.
Was it a faithful adaption? Yes, I think that it was.
Is it something I'd watch again? Maybe when it hits Netflix, but I don't see myself heading out to the movies to see it on the big screen again.