Review: If I Stay

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Atley Weems, A&E Editor

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Everyone is well aware of the tear-jerking storyline that was The Fault in Our Stars. Not only was John Green excellent in writing the book, but he did a fantastic job helping director Josh Boone make the movie as close to the book as he could within the time limit that was provided for him. Not long after this heart-warming movie came out, did the trailers for R.J. Cutler’s If I Stay appear on my television screen.

After having watched The Fault in Our Stars, I had high hopes for If I Stay. I had read both of the books and was surprised to see how well of a job Josh Boone did with incorporating actual quotes from the story into the movie. It not only made it more interesting, but it allowed me to become closer to the actors that were playing characters that had grown close to my heart while reading the novel. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort weren’t the Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters that I had imagined at first, but they became so when given the right words. They wouldn’t have molded into those roles so eloquently if the screenplay wasn’t so precise as to make them fit.

Writing and directing a movie isn’t an easy task as is, but writing a screenplay based off of a novel is an even more thwarting one. You must uphold the vision of the author as well as fit everything into a sound two to three hour movie. Of course there will be things missing, for example Harry Potter films had short parts such as the Headless Horseman’s Halloween party cut in the second movie, but you must keep some of the dialogue so that readers can connect characters to actors easily.

Sadly, unlike Josh Boone, R.J. Cutler didn’t have a strong enough screenplay to support his movie when compared to the novel. As a reader of the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman, I was aware of the vital parts to the movie. Although there were a few good instances that picked up on the character’s personalities, the dialogue missed a lot of important things that came into play in the book.

Not only was the dialogue a good mile off from the words of the book, but some of the characters didn’t exactly fit. Mia (Chloe Grace Moretez) was supposed to be a freckled girl, unconfident and unsure while her friend Kat (Mireille Enos) was a strong feminist figure that disliked Adam (Jamie Blackley) for the majority of the movie. I found myself thinking that the movie was excellent, but it wasn’t like the book. It had amazing actors and actresses that brought me to tears because of the reality of death and imagining one in a position like Mia’s. It was a well-done movie, with high quality picture and meaning, but it wasn’t a movie based off the book.

Mia had been in a car accident with her family, and was the only one left with the opportunity to live. If she woke up, she was waking up without a family. Or was she? Her friends and family friends waited patiently for her like anyone would for a loved one that is on the verge of disappearing from your life forever. The concept wasn’t a small thing to tackle, and R.J. Cutler made it a thing to contemplate. I thought about what I would do in her place, would I go back to a world without my family but be with my true love or would I give up fighting, it was definitely something to think about.

Actors such as Adam (Jamie Blackley) and Mia’s grandfather (Stacy Keach) pulled at my heartstrings when talking to Mia about what she was going to do. Was she going to stay and be an orphan, or die and escape the pain of the real world? It was hard to watch such powerful grieving and emotion and not feel tears coating my eyes.

I enjoyed watching the movie as any other audience member; it was emotional and had fabulous actors and actresses who inspired thoughts and questions. As a person who read the book, though, I would have to say that the movie could have been further connected to the work it was supposed to be based off on. I would recommend this movie to anyone feeling the need to cry out every last tear your body can muster, but if you have read the book do not watch the movie expecting it to be a screenplay written by Gayle Forman herself.

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