Today I'm back with yet another Book vs. Adaptation post - woohoo!
If I Stay was published in 2009 and adapted for the big screen in 2014 by R. J. Cutler who, as one of the directors of Nashville, is no stranger to a bit of music-centred drama. I read If I Stay in 2014, and if you'd like to see my thoughts on the book you can check out my review here!
If I Stay is around 106 minutes long and stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley as our romantic leads, Mia and Adam. Watching this was the first time I'd seen Blackley in anything, though he has one of those faces that makes me think I've seen him somewhere before, but at this point Moretz is something of an adaptation veteran. She's been in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Let Me In, Hugo and Carrie, and has since returned to our screens as Cassie in J Blakeson's adaptation of The 5th Wave. She was even considered for the part of Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise.
I've mentioned before how little I tend to stray into YA contemporary, but how much I enjoy it when I do. If I Stay is most definitely one of my favourite YA contemporaries; I flew through it in one sitting, so I was pretty excited to watch the adaptation. I'm sure other readers and film buffs would disagree, but I've always found that books that don't fall into the speculative fiction category at all are much easier to adapt than those that do. You can't get the world wrong or the magic system wrong because there is no magic system and the world's our own, but the adaptation could still quickly go south if it isn't done well.
Thankfully, this one is.
Much like Coraline, I think this may be one of those rare instances when I enjoy the film more than the book. Don't get me wrong, the book's great, but the film made me a little teary-eyed where the book didn't, and I just love watching it; I've watched it so many times since it was released on DVD, it's the kind of film I like to put on if I have a few hours to myself and I want something on in the background while I tinker away at whatever it is I'm doing. That might not sound like much praise, but it's only films that I really, really enjoy that I use as 'background music'.
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Moretz; before this the only films I'd watched that she was in were Hugo and Dark Shadows, and I didn't enjoy either of them that much. That's not her fault, by any means, but it did mean she got slightly tainted by association. Now, though, I think she's a brilliant young actress; she captures Mia beautifully.
In fact I thought everyone was cast well. Blackley is a very charming Adam, Liana Liberato makes for a very fun Kim, and Mireille Enos and Joshua Leanord are wonderful as Kat and Denny. Nobody felt miscast or unnatural, which is always a plus.
It's definitely a very close adaptation - there are the odd tweaks here and there, mainly just tiny sections of the book that they missed out, but I didn't really notice them not being there, and I think I actually preferred the story without them. Everything flowed nicely from one section to the next, despite the back and forth narrative to the story.
One of my favourite things about this film, though, is the soundtrack. Or one song in particular on the soundtrack. Norwegian songwriter Ane Brun did an absolutely beautiful cover of Beyonce's 'Halo', accompanied by cellist Linnea Olsson, and it's so lovely - I think I prefer it to the original!
Basically If I Stay is one of those lucky books that's managed to land itself a very good adaptation. If you're a lover of the book and you've been wary about watching this, you needn't worry - I think you'll love it!