Friday, June 6, 2014
Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars
I have a complicated relationship with The Fault in Our Stars. A mere two weeks before seeing the film, I was fortunate enough to be in Nashville for the weekend and able to get media passes for the TFIOS event there, where I got to get up front and close with John Green, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff in the media pen. Before that, I reviewed the book last August, and loved it; since then, I've been trying to devour all of Green's work, and I also reviewed Paper Towns, which will soon be a feature film with Wolff as the main character. To say I had high expectations for the TFIOS film, then, would probably be an understatement, and I have a feeling most of Green's fans feel this way as well.
Our protaganist is Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley), who totes an oxygen tank with her at all times. Hazel has lung cancer, but for now it's under control. She meets Augustus Waters (Elgort) at a cancer support group; he lost his leg to cancer a few years back, but is mostly there to support his friend, Isaac (Wolff), who currently has one good eye and will soon be undergoing surgery to remove it. When Gus and Hazel meet, it is electric; soon, they are great friends, but Gus wants more. Hazel describes herself as "a grenade - because one day [she] will explode, and I want to limit the casualties," and refuses to put a label on their relationship.
Hazel's favorite book is by an author who lives in Amsterdam, and he is notoriously reclusive and also hasn't written any other novels. Gus uses his "Wish" (granted by the Genies, like a "Make a Wish" foundation-type group) to take them to Amsterdam so they can meet him (Willem Dafoe) and find some answers to their questions. What they find there, however, ends up surprising them.
I enjoyed this film a lot, and I would say it was great, but not fantastic; great being better than "good" in this scenario. There are moments of genius throughout, and the acting, specifically by Woodley, Elgort, and Dafoe, is fantastic; Shailene Woodley is such a versatile actress, and even though I had just seen her in-person and also in Divergent (with Elgort as her brother, interestingly enough, and now as her boyfriend here), she WAS Hazel Grace, completely. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell also have roles here, as Hazel's parents, and in my opinion, the movie does flashback scenes quite well, with a scared 13-year-old Hazel thinking she is going to die of cancer.
Yes, see this film - and bring tissues. I think the teenage girls in the row behind me at my screening were sniffling and sobbing louder than some of the actors on-screen, and if you don't find yourself tearing up through a few scenes, you may want to check to make sure you're human. The book had so many great quotes (one of my favorites being "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once," with Hazel describing Gus), and the movie made sure to include these, which I definitely appreciated. Since I read the book almost a year ago, I can't speak as to all of the minor details, but I believe that overall the film did a good job of adapting Green's book. I'd recommend this movie for all ages, even though fans of Green's work and teens will probably be the ones flocking to the theaters first to see this, and I was still thinking about it long after I had left the screening that night. It's not a perfect adaptation of the book, but I enjoyed it, and even as a stand-alone movie, it has great merit.
The Fault in Our Stars is in theaters today, June 6th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 125 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.