Yep, The Fault In Our Stars is just as good as you were hoping. Adapted from John Green’s best-selling novel of the same name, the script follows the book as well as it possibly could (only cutting out parts that you can live without). Not just that… the cast is flawless, and, most importantly, the emotion is even more escalated now that you see Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) in the flesh. That’s right, invest in some Kleenex stock because this weekend there are going to be LOTS of tears, both happy and sad. This story is not for the faint of heart, and has as much humor as it does heartbreak. Not to mention, it is not your typical teeny-bopper love story; it has a smart story, heart, and depth and never dumbs down the content with sickingly sweet cheesiness.
For those that have not read the book, The Fault In Our Stars follows Hazel Grace, a brave teenage girl who has been battling cancer for many more years than doctors originally predicted. Thanks to a miracle drug, Hazel Grace’s malignant tumors in her lungs have shrunk, though that does not mean she is cured; she is still just living on borrowed time. Unfortunately, Hazel Grace is constantly reminded of this bleak fact thanks to an oxygen tank she totes around and many sudden trips to the emergency room to drain fluid from her lungs. Hazel Grace does not let her malady get her down, though, and is funny, outgoing, sassy… basically a girl you would want to be your best friend.
Due to the fact that Hazel Grace is not expected to live as long as other kids her age, her doctors and parents make her attend a cancer support group so she can talk about her feelings and hopefully meet more kids that are going through the same things as her. There, she meets Augustus, who is missing a leg after a battle with bone cancer, and his friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), who had a tumor in one eye and had to have it removed, and now has to do the same thing in the other. The three become fast friends, and eventually Augustus and Hazel Grace fall in love.
Through their deep bond, full of humor and a shared connection few people (let alone two teenagers) have experienced, the two realize what it is to be in love and the emotional turmoil one endures while loving someone that is slowly dying. It’s just strange that instead of one character being healthy, they both are left wondering which one will have to live without the other (This is the part where you get the Kleenex).
It says a lot about a movie when one of my only critiques is that one of the characters, Augustus, is too nice. How is that even a criticism?! A character is too nice?! The horror! Well, I guess I should also point out that I find it a bit inappropriate that the two had their first big kiss in Anne Frank’s house… and people clapped… What?! In the book, Hazel Grace points out that she thinks Anne would have been okay with their sign of affection, and I think I can agree, but c’mon. Maybe next time, leave it for Van Gogh Museum.
Shailene Woodley is the emotional core of the film, giving the best performance of her career. This film needs someone with her talent to portray such a strong character; Woodley makes you feel everything Hazel Grace feels, be it pain when she is sick and in the hospital, or fear when some of her friends start getting more and more sick. She and Ansel Elgort bring so much life and energy to the characters that a lot of time, it doesn’t even look like they are acting. It’s nice to watch a film that allows teenagers (and consequently actors) to be real people, with real emotions and real fears. There is no artificial angst or painfully contrived plot points; it all seems natural and real. Supporting performances by Laura Dern and Nat Wolff should not be ignored. No one could have played Frannie better than Dern. In fact, after the movie, I was ready for her to adopt me!
It always makes me excited when a great book survives a film adaptation. The Fault In Our Stars not only survives the adaptation, but thrives! If you’re a fan of the book series, you will love this film, if you are a human being, you will love this film. Basically, this movie is a sure bet for this weekend, just make sure you swing by Redbox to get Bridesmaids or another funny palate cleanser on the way home!
My Review: A-/A