Friday, August 29, 2014

Book-to-Movie-Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I went to see this movie (1) because the preview made me cry when I saw it at TFIOS premiere, so duh and (2) I'm such a dedicated blogger that even though I didn't love the book, I knew I needed to tell the world how the movie held up.

I mentioned a few times over the last few weeks that I've been having this crying issue - nothing has been making me cry. That is until I read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins last week and it cured me! So at first I was afraid I was going to leave this movie dry-eyed and heartless, just like I'd been with every book for the past month.

I obviously didn't realize that I had nothing to worry about on the crying front. I was a fuckin mess.

     IT STAYED PRETTY CLOSE TO THE BOOK
I'm quite forgiving when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations when things are changed or moved around for the sake of the adaptation being smoother or portraying a feeling or a message better. I hate when things are totally changed around, but I can forgive when the necessary things are moved around.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that If I Stay the movie stayed rather close to the book. Not much was actually added in or changed - it was more like a lot of the tiny less important details were left out. For example, Kim's crazy mom, while amusing, wasn't necessary and was left out of the movie. A couple of other minor things but nothing that changed the story.

The only thing that was "added" in was this weird fight between Mia and Adam. I mean, don't get me wrong, the fight scene was great, Adam was awesome and rude and an asshole, just like they were trying to pull off, but I don't remember anything like that from the book at all. Mia and Adam were more passive aggressive and Adam in the book was a sweetheart but he could be a dick, too. Otherwise I was pretty pleased with how close the adaptation was.

     THE ADDED BONUS OF MIA'S AND ADAM'S MUSIC
We get to heard "Adam's" music!!! Sometimes when a book has a musician as one of its main characters, albums are made in partnerships with one or two real-life musicians, (e.g., Jodi Picoult, Colleen Hoover). The music is often good, but it's nothing like what we fall in love with on the radio or from our favorite underground artists. In the If I Stay movie, Adam's music comes to life - and it is awesome!

We see him rockin' and rollin' and his voice is even pretty great. Now I did absolutely no research whatsoever as far as the music goes and who wrote it or if Jamie Blackley was the one who was singing, but I suspect it was. I could be wrong, but I'm just guessing here. I have no idea, but I know that it was one of my favorite parts of the movie watching Adam sing on stage and getting to briefly be a part of what he loved.

It was also really awesome seeing/hearing Mia play. Now I also did zero research about Mia's music but I suspect ChloĆ« Grace Moretz was not the source of that wonderful sound. It was mesmerizing though, and beautiful. The cello music was enough to have me tearing up at times. Definitely these were my favorite parts.

     ITS A SHAME THAT THE ACTING WAS... JUST OKAY
This Chloƫ Grace Moretz girl... she looks familiar to me... and she's got quite a lengthy filmography, but I hadn't ever heard of her before this movie. I think she was a good Mia, but she just didn't really do it for me. She was so clean cut (which yes, is like Mia, but the emotional parts [except for one particularly difficult one] I felt should have been more raw) and sometimes I felt like I was just watching a movie, not like I was part of it. It's just like when reading a book and no one wants to be reminded that they are reading a book, ya know? I hope that makes sense.

Jamie Blackley (Adam), quite the opposite of Moretz's performance, was pretty perfect. What a brilliant portrayal of that character! He just tore my heart right up. Plus seeing him up on stage was hot and he looked like he really belonged there. Contrary to the case with the rest of the cast, Blackley was pretty much flawless.

The parents were cute, quirky, funny, and it was hard not to love them, but acting was a bit awkward. I didn't feel much chemistry between the actors other than between Mia and Adam. OMG I forgot the grandfather. He killed me. He was amazing. And he killed my heart. But overall, it was just alright acting-wise.

     I'VE FINALLY DISCOVERED WHY I DIDN'T LOVE THE BOOK
Finally! After reading If I Stay, and after having not shed one single real tear (my eyes got watery, that's about it) I knew a lot of my blogging pals were going to be wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I know so many of you who sobbed and sobbed over the book and I started wondering what was wrong with me, too.

But the movie kept doing this really annoying thing that I realized the book (kind of) did! Every time a really sad part was happening, it would suddenly rip you from that scene and flashback to some random part of Mia's life, or vice versa - we'd be watching a particularly touching flashback then suddenly jump back to Mia in the hospital. It was hard to connect with it when the transitions seemed to be at inopportune times and not very smooth. My sister and mom even commented to me at one point during the movie, "OMG, why do they keep doing that!?" I wondered that myself. I assume it was some kind of technique to get the emotions all over the place, and for the movie it kind of worked (I mean I was a mess either way, even if it was annoying), but with the book it made it really hard to connect.

Also, I've decided I didn't like how focused the book and movie were on the romance. Is this listed as a romance? Probably, but based on the way the story starts, I felt like it should have been more even, with just as much time spent on Mia's family, friends, music, school, boyfriend, etc. So maybe I'm being picky because this probably is listed as a contemporary romance, but I wish it'd been a bit more contemp and a little less romance.

     THE QUESTION YOU'VE ALL BE WANTING TO ASK: DID I CRY?
F*** yeah I cried. Like a damn baby! I shed about one measly tear for the book while reading it. I cried almost from beginning to end with the movie. Even with the choppy, poorly-timed transitions and Moretz's slightly less than stellar emotional scenes, I was a wreck. A freaking wreck. I remember at one point, I thought I was going to lose it - like not be able to hold in my ugly cry anymore and start sobbing and making strangled noises in the back of the theater. It was rough - really, really rough. The movie connected me to all of the feelings that I was totally missing while reading the book.

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I really liked this movie. The book was alright for me (I rated it 3 stars) but nothing to write home about. I wanted to feel something when I read it and finally after seeing this movie, I do! Everything I wanted to cry over, wanted to rage about, I got the chance to while watching If I Stay in theaters. It was well done, the actors, while not amazing, were great, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with this story once and for all. I actually left the theater wanting to read Where She Went which I'd written off after finished If I Stay and not loving it. I might actually pick it up!

Did you go see If I Stay this past week? What did you think? Were you like me, blubbering like a baby regardless of the small annoyances? Or did you find it not up to your expectations? Did you read the book first or did you not bother? Loved it or hated it? Let's talk about this book and movie!

A.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I haven't seen the movie yet, mostly because I'm not a fan of Moretz (also I just haven't had the time). I too cried at the previews during TFIOS, but unlike you I loved the book. I actually felt the story wasn't about the romance and if you've read the second book you'll learn that her decision to stay or go was based more on doing it for herself than for Adam. I'm really looking forward to seeing it and I am sure I will cry my freakin eyes out too ;) ... Daisy Paltrow

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