By Kayla Whittle
In “If I Stay,” Mia is at the beginning of a snow day when a car accident changes her life forever. She wakes up, confused and alone, only to realize that she is in a coma, barely alive. Struck with sudden tragedy, she can either crumble underneath the weight of all that is lost or stand strong and recognize what she has left to live for: the people in her life who are convincing her to stay.
In the onslaught of young adult, book-to-movie adaptations coming to theaters, “If I Stay” stands strong as a movie that is loveable, even if you have never heard of the book. This success can be attributed both to author Gayle Forman’s wonderful talent for creating vivid modern characters as well as how easily contemporary fiction lends itself to film. While a little may be lost because the author’s gripping prose cannot be directly translated to the screen, fans of the novel will leave the theater happy. Those who have had no contact with the book will love the movie even more as they visually experience what has captivated the hearts of many.
Mia is played by Chloe Grace Moretz, an actress who has exploded into the spotlight after starring in movies ranging from horror to comedy. In this film, she tries out a new genre while using her previous experience to help her character shine. She excels in enticing the audience to fall in love with Adam (Jamie Blackley) beside her, to cry for her tragedy and to hope for her happy ending. Moretz pulls us into Mia’s world and makes it so that we don’t wish to leave it. Thankfully, her love interest, Adam, delivers just as powerful a performance. He compliments Moretz’s character, and their scenes together are often fun and endearing.
At times, the minor characters of the film truly made it touching and memorable. As Mia searches for a reason to cling to life, the scenes become a mixture of her memories and portions of the time she spends in the hospital. Seeing how wonderful her family was as she grew up prompts laughter tinged with sadness, yet what brings on tears is seeing her grandfather, played by Stacy Keach, remind Mia of how much he loves her. The simplicity of the scene in which he is alone with Mia in the hospital was outstanding.
Do not dismiss this movie — it is a meaningful contemporary film. “If I Stay” is full of heart, a fantastic cast of characters and a strong ending that will leave you clamoring for more. We can only hope that the success of this movie will prompt the adaptation of more of Gayle Forman’s work for audiences everywhere to fall in love with.