Thursday, August 21, 2014

If I Stay - Movie Review

If I Stay is an adaptation of the wildly popular novel written by Gayle Forman which tells the story of a young girl who's life suddenly unravels just as it seemed to be piecing itself together. Directed by R.J. Cutler, the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Mireille Enos, Liana Liberato, and Stacy Keach.

Mia Hall (Moretz) is a teenager who is about to go through a major change in her life, but not in any way she had been anticipating or hoping for. After a car accident leaves her entire world up in the air, she is forced to look back at the pieces of her life that have brought her to this fateful day and she will ultimately have to decide what to do with the rest of her life.

When a best selling novel is adapted into a feature film, you can never be totally sure of what you are going to get until its playing out in front of you on the screen. The book, written by Gayle Forman, was an instant success and saw droves of young women fall in love with a story that is just as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. The real key to making this film work would be in casting actors and actresses who could bring to life a roster of characters that fans already know so well and more than likely have serious emotional attachments to. The number one, best decision made in this regard was putting Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role. I firmly believe she is going to be a big star for decades to come and, while this may not be noted as a milestone in her career, she does bring just the right notes to the role and really brings Mia to life in so many wonderful ways.

While I have never read the book, I can imagine the rest of the casting is just as spot with Jamie Blackley, who plays Mia's budding rock star boyfriend Adam, and Stacy Keach's brilliant turn as Mia's grandfather being prime examples. From the very beginning, I felt like these were all real people going through real moments in their lives which ultimately helps to drive home the more dramatic portions of the story. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of using flashbacks as the primary device in telling a story, but here it is absolutely essential to making Mia's journey work. Music also plays a very big part in the story, not just as a film making tool, but as an essential piece of each person's lives. It's very interesting to see how creative differences (punk enthusiast versus classical purist) actually help to build stronger bonds between family members and spark relationships between young lovers.

While I thought this movie was a solid effort, If I Stay is really going to find a home with the same demographic that made the book such a smashing success. All the young ladies in the theater during the screening I attended were about as invested in the story as they possibly could be and were hitting every emotional high and low the movie threw at them. I would highly recommend having plenty of tissue on hand when you enter the theater. Seriously, ladies, you will need it.


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