Movie Review: If I Stay

If I StayI loved Gayle Forman’s novel If I Stay, and so I was nervous about how it would translate to the screen – it seemed like it would be way too easy to make it saccharine or overly tear-jerky just for the sake of it. And all the music stuff would be easy to get wrong, too. But when I saw the movie this weekend, I was thrilled with how it turned out. It felt authentically emotional, and that’s in large part because of the amazing cast – I knew Chloe Grace Moretz and Mireille Enos were good actors, but I was blown away by Jamie Blackley and pleasantly surprised by Joshua Leonard and Jakob Davies as well, and the whole ensemble was cohesive in a way rarely seen, so that they really felt like a family and group of friends.

Moretz and Blackley were completely believable as teenagers in love, complete with the level of melodrama that usually entails, and also believable as serious young musicians, so the tension between those aspects of their lives felt real, without it seeming like one choice or the other was obviously the right answer. Blackley did all his own music, I believe, and even used his own guitar, and I was impressed that he was convincing both on the acting and the music side of things. And I’m thrilled that the soundtrack has six songs by his character’s in-movie band, Willamette Stone. Moretz’s cello technique was better than I’d feared, though if you’re familiar with playing stringed instruments, you’ll be able to tell when her hands aren’t matching the music. This only distracted me a few times, though. (And I’m guessing she probably had cello doubles for some of the more intense playing scenes, though I have not confirmed that.)

The flashbacks to the life of the Hall family and to Mia and Adam’s relationship were done so well that almost every time, I was surprised and dismayed to remember what was actually going on when the movie cut back to the hospital. I think the extensive flashbacks and the superb acting in them actually made me feel Mia’s loss of her family more keenly in the movie than I had while reading the book. The “perfect day” scene destroyed me, as did the hospital visit from Mia’s grandfather (played by Stacy Keach).

As the movie ended, the audience gasped, as one, in a way I’d never heard in a theater before. I was tempted to stand up and yell “You know there’s a sequel, right? You can read it right now!” But I didn’t. (But there is! And I liked it even better than the first book. It’s called Where She Went.) That moment of unanimous response was, I thought, a good sign of just how successful the movie was at achieving what it set out to do. And personally, I was left hoping for both a sequel movie – to see Moretz and Blackley take on the Where She Went material – as well as some sort of magical alternate universe or prequel movie that would let us see more of the parents and the intact family and group of family friends, because I just loved those scenes so much.

Did you see If I Stay this weekend? What did you think?

Two New Clips from If I Stay

If I StayIf I Stay will be out a week from today! And Warner Bros. has released two new clips from the movie for the occasion. Both deal with pre-crash things – Mia’s relationship with Adam and her Juilliard audition – and it’s interesting how much the marketing for this movie has made it look like a rom-com or something at times. I mean, both these clips look good and I’m still very hopeful about the movie, but I wonder what people unfamiliar with the book will expect.

“What If It Doesn’t Work Out?”

“What’s That?”

If I Stay Music Clip: “I Want What You Have”

If I StayOoh, we’ve got a look at one of Adam’s concerts in If I Stay! This is great. I’m so glad they found an actor – Jamie Blackley – who can pull off doing the music himself. Everything I see about this movie makes me more and more optimistic about it, which is honestly not something I can say about many movies.

Movie News: The Jungle Book, The 5th Wave, Child 44, Mr. Holmes, & More

Neel SethiYoung Neel Sethi here will play Mowgli in Jon Favreau’s version of The Jungle Book.

The Fifth Wave will hit theaters on January 29th, 2016.

And Child 44 will be released on April 17th, 2015.

Here’s a look at Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes (a.k.a. A Slight Trick of the Mind). In addition, Hiroyuki Sanada has been cast in the movie.

And here’s a glimpse of Chris Hemsworth in In the Heart of the Sea, courtesy of Ron Howard.

David Heyman will produce and James Schamus will write the adaptation of Reza Aslan’s Zealot.

Movie News: The 5th Wave, The Jungle Book, The Outpost, & More

Chloe MoretzChloe Moretz will star in The 5th Wave, along with Nick Robinson and Alex Roe.

Ben Kingsley will voice Bagheera in the Disney version of The Jungle Book.

Sam Raimi is producing Jake Tapper’s The Outpost.

Ann Dowd has been cast in Big Driver.

Annie Neal is writing an adaptation of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mythology is developing a movie called Blackout based on Scott Andrew Selby’s A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin.

CBS Films has acquired A.G. Riddle’s Atlantis trilogy.