“If I Stay” fails to impress
By Amanda Kochanowski
The film adaptation of “If I Stay” directed by R.J. Cutler, based on the young adult novel by Gayle Forman released in 2009, was brought to theaters under Warner Brothers on Aug. 22.
The story is set in modern day Washington and follows Mia Hall, a teenage girl and classical musician. Mia’s world orbits around her family, boyfriend and cello. This all changes very quickly when the Hall family goes for a ride on a snowy day and gets in a tragic car accident.
Flashing back to memories of everything she has ever loved, Mia has an out of body experience and is able to see her unconscious body and everything going on around it. The movie is focused around the fact that Mia is left with a choice: should she take the easy way out and give up or should she stay?
Mia Hall is played by Chloe Grace Moretz, a 17-year-old actress from Georgia who has previously starred in the horror movie “Carrie,” “Kick-Ass” and “Kick-Ass 2.” Her boyfriend Adam is played by Jamie Blackley, a 23-year old from the United Kingdom that has previously been in films such as “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
The film definitely has a somber tone, and tissues might be necessary to watch the emotional roller coaster that Mia must endure.
While the book and the sequel sold enough copies to become a bestseller, the odds of the film adaptation having the same fate are slim. The awkwardness and low skill level of main actress Moretz are quite clear, making the movie hard to watch. Her cringe-worthy performance resembles that of Kristen Stewart in “Twilight.” While Mia’s dialogue and appearance stick to the portrayal in the novel, Moretz makes the character awkward and not as great as she could have been. Her acting seemed overly dramatic at points, and at others it seemed that she was not even trying. Also, her reactions to a traumatic event seem indifferent and cold.
Adding to the disappointment is the excessive use of flashbacks. While some are necessary to tell the story, the overkill slowed the plot.
The most important and interesting plot line, Mia’s strange experience of being able to see everything that is happening around her even though she is in horrible condition after the accident, was underdeveloped almost to the point of being completely ignored. Instead, the viewer gets another cliché teenage love story.
One thing the moviemakers got correct was the portrayal of Mia’s boyfriend Adam. Blackley had an adequate performance and managed to pull off the rock star act. The character stayed true to the book, which is very important to readers.
The ending of the film felt unfinished and left viewers desiring more. Overall, what could have been a good movie turned out to be a bust.