It's been a century since I last used the Book Crossover tag but I'm planning on changing that bit. It's a feature where I share news, or more often that not, reviews, of books that crossed over to the visual medium, film or otherwise. Today, I'm here to review the movie IF I STAY.
Title: If I Stay
Theatrical Release: August 22, 2014
Watched: September 10, 2014
Book it's based from: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Read the book? Yes (4 stars)
Reviewed the book? No. Might never. #feels
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
A thing you might not know about me: I absolutely adore/love/idolize Chloë Moretz. I once said that that I'll play for the other team for her. Forget age gap and all that. Because TALENT, man. That talent. And yeah, she was so cute when she was a kid and then woah, she got hot. This kid will go really, really far in her career. Anyway, kinda forget I said this whole paragraph.
Point is, even with my Chloë Moretz love, I had low expectations from the film. Can't blame me because I absolutely did not approve of Jamie Blackley as Adam. Sure, Gayle Forman thought he was perfect and he's an actual musician but call me superficial but the stills just didn't convince me that he can be and he will be Adam.
Then US bloggers started posting that they loved the film and that they cried their hearts out and an inkling of fear crept in. What if I'm that person who won't cry because I have a stone for a heart? What if I don't like the film?? Add to that that my friend (who I watched the movie with) told me that it's rated 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. I lowered my expectations yet again because I loved the book and Gayle Forman and I don't want to have my heart broken if the film ends up lambasting the book (although I doubted that because Gayle loved it).
(I am such a long-winded person. Three paragraphs and no review yet?)
So it all boils down to this: I think the movie was okay. Can even be classified as good enough - some aspects cancelling the not-so-good parts. And yes, I liked it, hence the three stars. But I think only people who have read the book will most likely like or love the film and those who haven't will think it's a cliche and a movie for hormonal, hopeless romantic teens (which isn't a bad thing but then you all know how snotty people can go).
The film made me realize that what made Gayle Forman's IF I STAY as beautiful and heartbreaking as it is was her writing. Because, let's face it, the movie is formulaic. After watching the film, it dawned on me that the plot of the film, and hence, the book, is so not unique or even fresh. With the book being translated into the visual medium, it lost Gayle's touch. The screenplay wasn't bad (although I have issues on the things they did change - more on that later) but the beauty, sorrow, hope and grief and ALL THE FEELS brought about by Gayle's words were lost in the screen. I could go on and on about this but I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over again so I'll talk about what I think of the several aspects of the film.
1. Acting. As usual, Chloë Moretz was great. I mean, what role can she not play? However, I don't know if it's with the script or her delivery of the material or my memory's seriously zonked but I feel like Mia was more shy in the book? No biggie though with me whatsoever. Jamie Blackley delivered just fine and thank you! I wanted to sock him in the nuts for being such a dick to Mia at times so he did his part well. Adam wasn't as irritating in If I Stay and I learned that characteristic of his was more prominent in Where She Went (which I haven't read yet). No sore thumb in the acting department because they were all good but really, Chloe Moretz takes the cake along with Stacy Keach as Mia's grandfather. Which kinda brings me to my next point.
a. Romance. I gave the book four stars because while I love it and cried like a baby, I wasn't as sold with Mia and Adam's romance. *hides from knives* It was the same with the movie, even more, I think. It just went too fast for me and it sort of veered into instalove territory. And like I said, Jamie Blackley wasn't my Adam and he still wasn't. I mean, sure, he did a good job, it's just my opinion.
b. Family. This is the relationship I felt the most for in the book and in the film as well. I love Mia's family and it even the anticipation of knowing what will happen next broke my heart. My friend and I were bracing while watching the film for the shoes to all drop. Mia's parents were awesome in the book and maybe even moreso in the film.
3. Pacing. I didn't realize that the book had so much plot to cram into until I watched the film. In its run of 106 minutes, so many things happened. I appreciate that they mostly stayed true to the book and showed the scenes we're all expecting but shoving in too much left me unable to wallow in grief and misery. When Mia learned that her parents died, I was ready to cry myself out. But then, all of a sudden, we gotta move on right about now. There was no time for the feels to squeeze my heart out and leave me hyperventilating. Which is another reason why I guess, If I Stay was better in book form. With books, you can stop reading and just cry. You can take your time. I couldn't exactly ask to pause the movie in the theater just so I can cry.
4. Feels. Like I previously said, the film wasn't able to elicit much tears and feels from me with the scenes I expected to break down. But every scene with Mia's grandpa tugged at my heart, especially when he was talking to her body while she was just watching. BROKE. MY. HEART.
5. Faithfulness to material. Damn, I didn't have any issue at all until the end. WHY? Why would you change Adam's "I'll let you go if you stay"??? That was another one of my breakdowns during the book and then, blah. Sooooo, if you've read the book, you might understand how important what he said was. Tsk. (Although I think I heard the "I'll let you go if you stay" bit while the horror thing with all the memories swirling was happening at the end but I'm not entirely sure. Can someone clear this up for me?)
6. Music. I didn't realize how music-centered the film was until I watched the film. *cringes* I mean, I know music played a large part in Mia and Adam's lives, in their story, but I guess while reading the book, it just didn't come across as much to me because I just plowed and read on the book. But in the movie, wow, that soundtrack. Glad to say I love the soundtrack. I guess that's one aspect I don't have any qualms on.
7. Directing. I thought the directing was fine although that bit at the end totally scared me. Horror movie vibes!! But still, I think it captured the book's atmosphere. The colors were right and although the camera work wasn't something groundbreaking or extraordinary, it served the film well.
So, that's it! Have you watched the film? Sound off in the comments below for your thoughts! We can discuss. And for those who haven't watched the film, go watch it!