The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

The Fault In Our StarsIn Indianapolis, sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is struggling to cope with a terminal thyroid cancer that has metastasized to her lungs. Despite having long given up on her cancer support group, she surprises herself by hitting it off with Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), an amputee who has been in remission for osteosarcoma for a number of months. They agree to trade books — Hazel’s cancer-inflected An Imperial Affliction for Augustus’ violent video game novelisation — and after having corresponded with the author (Willem Dafoe) of the former set off for Amsterdam, courtesy of a sympathetic make-a-wish organisation.

It has been a good few years now since maudlin Jodi Picoult adaptation My Sister’s Keeper gave cancer movies a bad name. In the intervening years films like Now Is Good and 50/50 have approached the subject with rather more sensitivity and even-handedness. Josh Boone’s The Fault In Their Stars — based on John Green’s astonishingly successful novel — falls somewhere in between, getting the teenage angst just right while also exploring the subject for comedy, often by highlighting certain well-observed absurdities that come hand-in-hand with a diagnosis.

The cast is exceptional, with Woodley and Elgort in particular — having earlier this year played siblings in Divergent — proving considerably more convincing as lovers. Both are incredibly sympathetic, and their initially cautious courtship is played beautifully. Their fears transcend their particular set of circumstances, and anyone can relate to having worries about being forgotten and leaving people behind. The supporting cast are arguably even more impressive, with Dafoe stealing every scene he’s in as the book-within-a-book’s aggressive author and Laura Dern playing something of a symphony on your heart strings as Hazel’s mother.

Set over a series of months, their romance is nevertheless a refreshingly slow burn. While nowhere near as phlegmatic as the love story in Twilight, there is a reluctance to hurt the other that sets it apart from most whirlwind romances. Hazel states at the outset that this is no traditional relationship drama, and rather than showboating displays of affection it is the smaller moments of intimacy that really hit their mark — a romantic dinner; a morning stroll. It’s not without the occasional misstep, however, and an otherwise promising scene set in Anne Frank’s apartment is sadly spoiled by a saccarine show of spontaneous public support that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Spider-man movie. That said, the atypical Amsterdam setting remains one of the film’s biggest assets.

Moving without being manipulative, The Fault In Our Stars is a more than your average Young Adult adaptation. Funny in places, devastating in others, it is a successful examination of young love in exceptional circumstances.

4-Stars

 

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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