The Buzz: If I Stay

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Gaby Dinh, Asst. Web Editor

There have been a countless number of Young Adult novels adapted to the movie screen and whenever a new one comes out, I play a little game with myself. In my mind, I predict whether or not it will be a successful movie. More often than not, I accurately predict the failures. But when I found out the movie “If I Stay” was being produced, a part of me genuinely hoped it would be successful. While the elements that made the book so wonderful were still there in the movie, the film was a bit lacking.

The plot revolves around teenager Mia Hall (Chloe Moretz), a gifted cellist who aspires to go to Julliard. She has a loving relationship with her parents and her younger brother, Teddy. But Mia struggles with the idea of Julliard, even though she wants to get accepted. While she loves the cello, she doesn’t want to leave her family or her boyfriend, Adam, because she will be thousands of miles away from them if she decides to attend. However, the choices in front of her disappear when her family decides to take a drive on a winter day. When Mia’s family hits an oncoming truck, she goes into a coma. The unusual thing about her predicament, however, is that she can “see” herself out of her body and watch the events after the car accident unfold in front of her. Thus, Mia is left with only one choice, to choose whether she wants to live or die.

In terms of movie adaptions, “If I Stay” is a solid one that doesn’t require you to read the book prior to watching it. It stays faithful to the novel’s highlights: Mia’s love for the cello and the relationships she has with her family, best friend, and boyfriend. Part of what made the movie so enjoyable to watch was the actors who portrayed Mia’s parents. They fulfilled the role of unconventional parents who were once a part of the punk rock scene but eventually settled down to have a family. Chloe Moretz’s emotional performance is worthy of a mention as well because she carries the role of a teenager obsessed with the cello that is confused about what she wants to decide with her future so well that it’s hard to imagine anyone else.

The biggest downfall of the film was the way it handled the novel’s flashbacks. In the book, the writer does a good job of switching back and forth between Mia’s life before the accident and the events that take place while she is comatose in the hospital. It gives you a fair amount of time to deal with the past and present.

The movie, on the other hand, focuses a bit too much on the past. While Mia’s life before the accident is definitely important, the way the film switched between the two was poorly done. Although I had already read the novel, I was silently urging the film to go back to the present so I could find out about the condition of Mia’s parents and brother in the hospital instead of her relationship with Adam.

“If I Stay” is definitely a tearjerker. But when some of the film’s most dramatic moments came, I couldn’t help but turn away not because I was so moved, but because it was rather cheesy. If you watch the movie, there is no denying that Mia’s painful situation is horrifying. However, I was mostly mixed in my opinion in how the movie decided to handle things. Some scenes were good and made me a little emotional, but others were just so cringe-worthy that I turned away.

Despite my complaints, “If I Stay” is one of the better teen novel adaptions out there. It doesn’t always focus on the romance, instead showing the strong family bonds that Mia has. So if you’re in a mood for a movie that might make you cry, this movie is definitely it.