Sophomore Sophie is a news section editor and copy editor for the paper. She likes playing volleyball with East and with her club team. She enjoys reading and writing. Her favorite subject is science. Read Full »
I was warned that “If I Stay” was a sad movie. That it was sadder than “The Fault in Our Stars.” That I would be in tears by the time the credits rolled. And yet I still went to the afternoon showing of the movie adaptation of Gayle Forman’s novel. I had read the book and knew that I was in for a tragic teenage romance. And though I usually tune out at those words, I was interested to see how the move and the book compared. I expected to like the book more than the movie, but I was surprised.
A terrible car crash leaves senior in high school Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) trapped somewhere between life and death. Sometime after the crash, Mia follows her body in an out-of-body-experience to the hospital, while trying to listen to nurses and family members talk about the state of her parents, Kat (Mireille Enos) and Denny (Joshua Leonard) and her brother, Teddy (Jakob Davies). During her out-of-body-experience, her ‘real’ body is in a comatose state in the ICU. The Mia that’s wandering around the hospital can’t interact with anyone or anything.
Mia has flashbacks of her life, which I assume were supposed to bring interest and emotion to the story. I thought they were great at first, but I eventually found them boring and repetitive — Mia and her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley) fight, Mia and Adam get back together, Mia and her family are perfect and always get along.
Mia realizes that she has to choose whether she fights to live and stay with Adam or follow a white light she sees in the hospital halls and choose to die and be with her family. I didn’t appreciate how this portrayed Mia as a girl who depended so much on her boyfriend — a teenage romance cliché. Mia struggles internally, unable to ask anyone for help to make the right decision. She’s on her own.
Although I didn’t shed any tears, I still thought that the movie was more emotional than the book. I can’t say too much without giving spoilers, but I will say that Moretz was heartbreaking in her role as Mia.
In the book, Mia and her family are unrealistic. They got along, never fought and Mia thought her parents were the coolest. If this was supposed to make me any more emotionally attached to the characters, it didn’t work. They seemed flat and unreal. Mia didn’t have much of a personality in the first half of the book. The movie was better at making the characters three-dimensional and lively. It made Mia’s family unit a little less perfect.
The movie also cut out strange parts from the book that confused me, like when a rockstar came to the hospital to help Adam get past a nurse to see Mia.
Eventually, the movie started to show more of Mia’s flaws. As she relived old memories with her family, Adam and her best friend Kim (Liana Liberato), her life began to seem less perfect. Although I think that the memories were, again, placed to make the watcher feel more connected to the characters, I didn’t feel anymore related to the Halls.
Both the movie and the book seemed improbable at times, like how Mia and Adam’s relationship was sudden and intense from the start. I got the impression from the movie that Adam bought Mia expensive tickets to a Yo Yo Ma concert before they even met. They are also overly in tune to their emotions, so much so that I found it unbelievable. At times they seemed to know exactly what they should say, like when Adam delivers the line, “but the you who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I’ll be in love with tomorrow.”
I liked both the book and the movie, but I thought that the movie was better. The book was good at keeping the plot interesting and fast-paced, but the movie brought the story and the characters to life. The movie made me feel for the characters. It dove deeper into Mia’s memories, revealing the different aspects of her life- her family, her best friend, her boyfriend and her music.