Heavily infused with music and relying on a flashback format, Forman’s novel seems ideal for the audio-visual medium of film. Yet Cutler’s unenergetic debut betrays the influence of the Nicholas Sparks-Lasse Hallström school of filmmaking.
As is too often the case with YA adaptations, emphasis is adjusted to give more prominence to developing love. Smartly though, one idyllic flashback is jarringly juxtaposed with a fraught hospital scene. Moments of urgent medical bustle, however, often feel stagy.
Through coy camerawork and minimal blood at the crash site, If I Stay sanitises its mature and distressing content, pandering to tween audiences.
Disappointingly little of the rock and classical music shot through the novel is utilised; instead clichéd scoring, familiar dialogue and minimal chemistry between Moretz and Blackley renders Cutler’s film far less engaging than its source material. Perhaps if Drew Barrymore had directed, bringing the edginess (and stellar music department) of Whip It, If I Stay could have left out the schmaltz and reached its full potential.
CAST: Chloё Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato
DIRECTOR: R. J. Cutler
WRITERS: Shauna Cross (screenplay), Gayle Forman (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Having barely survived a car crash Mia Hall (Moretz) undergoes an out-of-body experience while lying comatose in hospital. She must choose whether to return to a life now unrecognisable or not to live at all.