After superhero films, one of the most bankable genres for film studios are Young Adult films that are based on novels. They are a near guarantee to make a profit due to the fact that the film will come with an attached loyal fan base. This summer saw this theory put into action when John Green’s ‘The Fault in our Stars’ hit screens across the globe. ‘The Fault in our Stars’ proved to be a hit with fans and critics alike, as it maintained the integrity of the novel that it was based on. In other words, Hollywood did not manage to put its clichés in it and dilute the source material.
‘The Fault in our Stars’ made cinema history during its opening weekend in America. Its opening day made $26.1 million in tickets sales, easily beating its main competition Tom Cruise’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ which made $10.7 in ticket sales. This is unprecedented for an independent film with a budget of $12 million to go up against a film with a budget of $250 million and more recognisable actors in it. The success of ‘The Fault in our Stars’ lies in its content, a script that appealed to a Young Adult audience because it’s realistic, subversive and did not talk down to the audience it was marketed to.
‘If I Stay’ enters the same genre with a loyal fan base due to its source material being a popular selling novel. The problem with ‘If I Stay’ though, is that it panders to its audience rather than captivating them the way ‘The Fault in our Stars’ did.
To keep the film’s synopsis brief, ‘If I Stay’ tells the story of Mia Hall (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), who is a child prodigy at the cello. While trying to get a scholarship for the Julliard Music Academy, she falls in love with Adam Wilde, a rising indie musician on the Port Oregon music scene and his band are on the brink of becoming ‘the next big thing’. They have a turbulent relationship due to the fact that their different musical paths put them on opposite ends of the spectrum. To make matters worse, Mia and her family get into a horrific car crash which sees all her family members die and leaves Mia in Limbo. While in Limbo, Mia has to decide whether to go back to living or to go on to the afterlife.
‘If I Stay’ checks off a long list of tropes that the Young Adult genre has been plagued with lately. A protagonist that is a bit of an outsider. Check. A bubbling romance that shows the intensity of young love. Check. A plot that is largely based around death or losing someone close to you. Check.
Now this might come across as being cynical but it actually comes from a place of frustration. Films like ‘The Fault in our Stars’ and ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ have shown that this genre can be more profound than pandering if the powers that be are willing to let it happen but unfortunately, in this case, they have chosen to play it safe which is why it will more than likely pass by cinema goers unnoticed.
One positive to report about the film is its leading star, Chloë Grace Moretz. You might know her better as the little girl in Kick Ass who swears a lot but in this film, Moretz shows that she has the ability to carry a leading role with a wide range of emotions. It is unfortunate that her first leading role has been propped up by a bad script but do not be surprised if you start hearing her name a lot more in the years to come.
Overall, ‘If I Stay’ is a disappointing film. It had the ability to be a bit more profound with the issues that it was tackling but ended up putting a Hollywood spin on it. However, I would recommend it as a film to take a date to (just make sure it is not a first date, there is nothing more insipid as a guy who takes a girl to the cinema on their first date). The soppiness of the storyline will go down well if you are trying to show your sensitive side.
‘If I Stay’ will be in Irish cinemas from 29th August 2014