We fell in love with this movie the way you fall asleep, slowly… and then all at once. Fans of John Green’s young adult novel of the same name have been patiently awaiting the release of The Fault In Our Stars since a division of 20th Century Fox optioned the rights to adapt it in early 2012. We attended the screening in May and upon entering the theater, cleverly filled with critics and fans, the audience exuded a genuine sense of anticipation. As the lights dimmed and the opening credits began there were a few squeals of excitement. I don’t know what I expected of Josh Boone’s endeavour, but I do know that I came away rather satisfied with the outcome.
The adaptation was a thoroughly enjoyable, rather faithful, rendering of John Green’s work. The casting was ace, the music on point and although there were a few scenes that I discovered didn’t translate well onto the big screen- the film didn’t suffer for it. In fact the omission of some aspects in the novel served to streamline the storyline in the film.
For those who haven’t heard of this ‘sick love story’ (have you been living under a rock?) the plot follows the life of one Hazel Grace Lancaster (played by Tris Prior, I mean Shailene Woodley) who meets Augustus Waters (Caleb Prior- I thought I’d finish the joke but now I just feel cheap- Ansel Elgort) at her cancer support group in the ‘literal heart of Jesus’. The Fault In Our Stars isn’t just about the relationship between two teenagers living with cancer, it’s about their ability to keep on keepin’ on despite having the weight of their mortality on their shoulders. The potentially mawkish subject matter was treated with just the right amount of honest humour, and bursts of tragic realism, that there was only an ever-so-slight teetering on the edge of over-sentimentality. It really was saved by moments of light-hardhearted self-deprecating humour. It’s always good when a movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.
A lot of this humour came in the form of one Isaac, (portrayed by the delightful Nat Wolff) Gus and Hazel’s friend also in cancer support group, who benefited from a well-written script that granted him some excellent lines. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell, Mrs and Mr Lancaster, were the perfect combination of fun[ny] and loving if weary (just below the surface) parents. Willem Dafoe made a formidable Peter van Houten- infusing the abhorrent character with just enough repugnance as to ramp up the author’s hateability. However the onus fell upon Woodley and Elgort to give us that chemistry we needed in order to believe the opinionated Hazel-Grace and pretentious Augustus were worth watching on the big screen- and boy did they deliver. There isn’t a moment that you don’t believe their emotion, from their first awkward exchanges and laughter to the tears and pain of heartache- there’s no escaping that belief.
It helped that we had an excellent soundtrack, with the right songs for the right moments, loud enough to drown out some of the sniffling in the audience. With artists like Ed Sheeran and Birdy contributing music written especially for the movie it was a wonder that there were any dry eyes in the house. While I can’t say that I, myself, allowed a tear to drop there were plenty buckets of creys around me to assure me that normal humans with emotions were suitably affected.
We gave it a FOUR out of FIVE Silent LOLS. Because while I can’t say that everything translated over well, the movie did the book justice where it really mattered. The film managed to make us laugh, cry and more importantly walk out of the cinema with a new found sense of life and what it means to truly live. The film had the potential to be a real Debbie-Downer but instead managed to instil a sense of hope that transcended the heartbreak. Proof that although the world may not be a wish-granting factory there were some things, and people, in it that you’d feel privileged to be heartbroken by. [Re]watch the trailer below and make sure you’re (mentally, emotionally and physically) ready by reading ‘A Fangirl’s Tale’. Okay? Okay.
– That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.
– So I now know why I didn’t see John Green’s cameo, the scene was cut from the film. While it seems he would have replaced the mum who pulls her daughter away after the girl asks Hazel about her cannula, I was really hoping it’d be just a glimpse of him in the background in the airport against a wall vlogging. Oh well.