Friday, February 20, 2015

Book to Movie Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
Book by Gayle Forman
Director: R.J. Cutler
Screenplay: Shauna Cross

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. The choice is hers if she can go on.

You can read my review of If I Stay (the book) here.  You can read my review of Where She Went here. 

Finally got around to watching this. I was soooo excited- I loved the book with all my heart, and the movie got a lot of pre-release hype. Ugh, the fatal mistake. NEVER go to a book-to-movie adaptation with expectations.

The first half was SO CHEESY. I was miming vomit the whole time. Those first conversations between Mia and Adam were so stupid and cringe-worthy. There was insta-love and insta-kissing and all in all a huge cliche. The only redeeming factor of the beginning of the film were the scenes with her parents- they are by far the best characters and actors in If I Stay the movie.

Speaking of actors, I was not impressed with Chloe or with Jamie (the leads). My first impression of them was that they didn't look the part, but then, that was my first impression of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Therefore, I expected them to surprise me for the better. They did not. I kept seeing them as actors reciting lines and going through motions - I was not feeling the characters at all. In the book I love them as a couple, here I failed to see why they like each other. Likewise regarding Liana Liberato, the actress who played Kim.

The whole film was oddly colorless. True, the story takes place in a hospital, but much of it is flashbacks of her life and even those were nothing special.

Everything started to pick up in the second half. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly made it better - I think I just started to get into it more, because none of the above flaws were rectified as far as I remember. It may also have been the music though.

The music - unquestionably the movie's strong point. As soon as I finished watching I started to download the soundtrack. The lyrics, the melodies, the playing,  the singing. I'm not much of a music critic, but I will say the songs were beautiful.

Adaptation- what WERE they thinking? I see no reason not to call the band Shooting Star like in the book (though I understand that Williamette Stone is the real name of the real band). Also, what was the whole making-Adam-prematurely-tortured for? In the movie one of his parents walked out on him or something like that and therefore he overreacts about Mia considering Julliard. It just made him more pitiful than he needed to be and nothing like the strong character in the book. (By that I mean he has reason enough to be upset and there was no need for this added detail)

And they pulled out the whole part where Adam brings a famous singer to cause a diversion so he can get in! That was the best part of the book!!

And the ending? COME ON. Clearly, someone failed to understand the point of the story. Adam giving up his career to follow Mia to NY takes away the thorn of the book's tearjerker ending and won't satisfy people who parted with loved ones for college. It avoided an important conflict of their story.

(It also basically cancelled out Where She Went which of course enraged me because I love the companion more)

Altogether? I actually managed to enjoy myself watching it, but don't go expecting a good adaptation or the next TFiOs. Rating:

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