If I Stay (Movie)

If I Stay (Movie)

4 out of 5 stars

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful story about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make. Based on the book by the same name by Gayle Forman, the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley.

My Review
I went to see this movie not having read the book first, something I almost never do. But when my 14-year-old daughter begged me to take her, and my ever-growing list of ARCs prevented me from getting to it anytime in the next few weeks, I decided to break with tradition. Afterall, it’s impossible for a movie to disappoint me by not being true enough to the book when I haven’t read the book. And since that keeps happening, I figured this might even be a welcome change. I ended up loving it. I thought it was beautifully filmed, the acting was great, the story is moving, and soundtrack is simply amazing.

Because I haven’t read the book, I don’t know how true  the movie is to Gayle Forman’s story, but what I saw on screen was wonderful. The dialogue was witty, the chemistry between the characters felt really authentic, and the telling of the story through flashbacks was well done. All I knew of the story was what I’d seen in a trailer on TV. But because I know there’s a second book in this series, I had a pretty good idea Mia would survive the car accident. What I didn’t know was how or why. I love the way it all unfolds through flashback with bits of Chloe in an out-of-body existence woven in as she struggles with incredible loss and intense longing. Living feels like a bigger chore than giving up as her family and friends beg her to come back via bedside vigil.

I’m dying to read the book now because the characters are so strong, and I want to see how close they come to the characters created by the author. I loved the way Chloe Grace Moretz portrays Mia, the teen cellist with dreams of Juilliard who falls in love with rocker, Adam. Speaking of Adam, Jamie Blackley is phenomenal as the boy who seems to have it all and is still believably insecure when it comes to the girl he loves. I couldn’t help but feel for Adam when Mia tells him she got an audition for Julliard, knowing the school is on the opposite side of the country. But I also pulled for Mia because, well, it’s freaking Julliard. And that age, do you really make choices about your future based on teen love? What they feel for each other is so real, the angst comes across so vividly on screen.

The soundtrack is awesome. From classical music to 90s grunge, and modern indie, it fits the whole symphony meets PNW music scene vibe. With music by Beck, Sonic Youth and the movie’s fictional Willamette Stone, there is a little bit of something for everyone.

The acting was just flat-out incredible. I never once questioned that these characters were who they presented themselves to be. The actors so thoroughly immersed themselves in their characters, I got lost in the story as the acting itself faded into the background.

Bottom Line
I thoroughly enjoyed If I Stay. I thought it was emotional, beautifully acted, gorgeously filmed, and has a fantastic soundtrack. If the movie is any indication, I’m going to love the book.

Title: If I Stay
Screenplay: Shauna Cross
Based On: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Director: R.J. Cutler
Producers: Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan
Cinematography: John de Borman
Music: Heitor Pereira
Release Date: August 22, 2014
Link: IMDb | Movie Site | Trailer

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