Movie Advisor: The Fault in Our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Main Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff, Sam Trammell
Running Time: 126 minutes
Release Date: Thursday June 5, 2014
It’s certainly no walk in the park: Two terminal teenage cancer patients fall hopelessly in love and hurtle, together, towards oblivion.
But before we begin, let’s get one thing clear: The Fault in Our Stars is based on a book. An incredibly insightful, witty, touching and hilarious book by John Green. To transfer even one tiny part of that to the big screen would have been an impressive achievement.
As the author himself told CBS, “It’s not easy to make a movie in Hollywood where the main character has tubes in her nose for the entire movie.”
So perhaps it’s a testament to the brilliantly offbeat musings of Green that his love story translated perfectly, almost word for word.
Or perhaps it’s thanks to the chemistry and authenticity of the two young leads (Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley) that the film teeters delightfully on the brink of sappiness without losing its balance.
Or maybe it’s just that the entire movie is so unabashedly “young adult” in its approach to a decidedly adult subject matter.
In telling the heartbreaking story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, director Josh Boone has cultivated the ideal mash-up of Romeo and Juliet-level romance with the lively, quirky drama of an ’80s John Hughes film.
Dorky text messages appear as scribbled notes on the screen, the soundtrack is acoustic and moody, and Woodley and Elgort are effortless in their wisecracking, eye-rolling exuberance.
Elgort, in particular, is like the human equivalent of a Golden Retriever. While he is hopelessly loveable throughout, he remains able to traverse the emotional intricacies of his character with ease (and there are plenty).
Woodley, on the other hand, has become the pioneer of teenage realism in Hollywood. In ratty Converse and no makeup, she’s chosen to portray young characters like George Clooney’s difficult daughter in The Descendents, a strong-willed wallflower in The Spectacular Now and a teen hero in Divergent. For all the right reasons, Woodley has the Midas touch when it comes to young adult fodder.
Sure, there are a few moments where the gravity of it all loses traction thanks to soppy slow-motion flashbacks or the rushed introduction of certain characters. But it is redeemed by the snappy, honest way Hazel and Augustus quip about their illness and fight to make a lasting impact in their limited time on earth.
You’ll shed some tears. Floods, perhaps. But you will walk out of the cinema feeling strangely uplifted, like you’ve ingested some slightly-too-hot chicken soup for the soul.
Simply put, you will fall in love with this movie the way Hazel falls for Augustus: “Slowly, then all at once.”
Have tissues handy.