Page to Picture: How “If I Stay” Missed a Note

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Welcome to Page to Picture, where we take a look at newly adapted movies and see how they stack up against their literary counterparts.

In this installment we help you decided whether you should stay in the theater long enough to witness the lackluster ending of If I Stay. WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!

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If I Stay

Let’s start with the book…

If I Stay was published in 2009 and was written by Gayle Forman. The novel follows 17-year-old Mia Hall as she tries to make the life altering discussion on whether to keep fighting and stay or be reunited with her family and leave. Pretty damn dramatic stuff! Throw in a boy in a band and deep passion for music, and you got all the right elements for a tearjerker YA.

If I Stay was published three years before John Green’s “realistic YA,” The Fault in Our Stars, but I would not put the two books or the two films in the same category. I did enjoy the novel and liked the way the book was structured, though I found the story predictable. I think the most successful element of this book was that it was a different kind of love story. Sure Mia was very much in love with Adam but the novel covers more of her love for her family and her passion for her own music and future.

Could Mia live in a world without her beloved family? Will she stay for her music and maybe even a little for Adam? Those are the consent questions we have throughout the novel. Though the ending may seem predictable, it was a justifying one.

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If I Stay

Which brings us to the movie…

and how it just seemed to miss the whole point of the justifying ending the novel delivered. Do not even get me started on how awful the film’s tagline is!

If I Stay overall was a pretty decent adaptation. Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley were the perfect Mia and Adam. Actually I cannot complain about any of the casting for the film. The real star of the film was the location, Portland. Try to tell me after seeing this film you didn’t want to pack up your car and run away to the North West coast.

Like in any adaptation we lose some of the story and development of characters. For the most part this wasn’t an issue. I was worried that they would cut out the scene where Mia’s grandfather tells her that he understands if she wants to go but it is present in the film and may just be the most tear-worthy scene, along with the moment where Mia finds out her little brother Teddy has passed on.

My main issue with the film was the ending, which completely missed everything the novel was trying to convey. Okay a little back story: in the novel at the moment of the accident Mia and Adam are going through a rough time but are still together and Mia is planning on attending his show in Portland that night, whereas in the film, the two are broken up and are not speaking. Though a small change, I found it to change the perspective of the viewer. Mia is about to walk into the light, which I am sorry was corny visually, when she hears one of her favorite classical pieces playing, she runs back to her room to find Adam has placed headphones on coma Mia. In the book Adam gives a beautiful speech about how he wants her to stay but not for him for her blah blah. In the film, Adam wants Mia to stay pretty much for him. After a beat, Adam opens the letter from Julliard reveling Mia got in. Then out of freaking no where Adam starts playing Mia a song her just wrote for her. This clearly was placed into the film to appeal to the teenage girls … like hello who doesn’t want a song written for them?! It seems like some time has passed and Mia finally wakes whispering Adams name … cut to black and me yelling WHAT!

I am not sure if this was a complete lack of understanding or just a bad translation of the novel’s ending but I do not approve. The book ending is way better! Adam gives a beautiful speech even saying he would leave Mia alone if that she what she wants. He then puts the headphones on coma Mia and plays the classical piece for her, which causes a flash of past and future memories to overcome Mia. Main point, it was not Adam who brought Mia back it was her love for music.

I suggest waiting for the film to come to VOD instead of heading to the theaters to see it.

Kait Calabrò

Kait Calabrò

Lady Kaitlin Marie Bernadette Calabrò of House Ravenclaw, First of Her Name; Mother of Recaps, Breaker of News, Khaleesi of Wonder Wharf, Queen of Geekdom, and Empress of Anglophiles, is the Managing Editor of AGtM.  By day she is the Marketing Manager of the Philadelphia Film Society, by night she is a serious relationship with her Netflix account. Kait is a proud Temple Owl! And is currently in a celebrity feud with both Samuel L. Jackson and Zachary Levi, unbeknownst to them. She spends her evenings watching the skies waiting for Thor to fly down and take her back to Asgard!
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