‘If I Stay’ deviates from expected plot


Emily Franke

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMp896hfp74″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ASUImTedo[/youtube]

After binge-reading If I Stay one afternoon in eager anticipation of the movie’s release, I rushed out to Forum 8 to see how well R. J. Cutler could recreate my imagination. Even with their problems, the novel and the movie played out an emotional, thought-provoking story that kept me thinking for days.

Because I rushed through the book, I didn’t take much time to decide whether the novel would translate well to the screen. While I enjoyed Gayle Woodman’s writing style and the vivid flashbacks into the months leading up to the Hall family’s tragic accident, I did find the plot slightly anticlimactic. With each new turn in the story and each flashback, the story felt like it was about to reach a shocking moment, a final event where I could say Mia wants to stay or Mia wants to go – but that never happened; this page turner never reached its peak.

Understandably, the written storyline had to adapt for R. J. Cutler’s film rendition to entertain the general audience. Most changes dealt with minor sensory details of the crash; the film toned down the graphic imagery of the accident scene and extended the lives of a few key characters, if only to push that part of the story toward the moment Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) realized her life was in her hands. While this prevented the film from being too realistic, I could forgive the small change.

However, I was disappointed with the changes to Mia and Adam’s relationship (Jamie Blackley). The romance between Mia and Adam wasn’t overly sappy, at least not in writing, but on the screen it turned into a classic teen romance, overrun and tarnished by too many make-out scenes.

Other small changes, such as the upscaling of the tension and fighting between Adam and Mia pre-accident, really added an emotional element of the teen drama variety. Without this tension, Adam would be a great, but mildly oblivious, guy, and Mia would be running off to Juilliard.

Even with my disappointment in the changes to their parts, I did appreciate the casting of Adam and Mia. Neither actor carried any reminders of past movies, so with fresh faces Mortez and Blackley played out their parts and really became the characters. In this aspect, Cutler really did recreate my imagination, and even when the couple argued and strayed from what I had expected, it seemed natural and added to the story.

The novel made me consider what I value in my life and what I would do if what I held dear suddenly vanished. That said, the plot always felt as though it were about to reach an incline but it never quite made it. The plot, so well set up by the tragedy of Mia’s situation and the forces pulling her between life and death, never quite reached a shocking moment.

While the novel and the story are mildly different pieces, both hold a high ranking in my summer activities. The book, while boring, was still a good read. The movie, while a teeny-bopper summer fling, was still a movie worth six dollars and fifty cents.
By Emily Franke