The Fault in Our Stars

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Release: Friday, June 6, 2014

[Theater]

For every hundred or so saccharine romances that Hollywood will churn out in a year, probability suggests there will be the odd exception or two that comes along and says “enough is enough.”

The cinematic adaptation of John Green’s best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is at once a beautiful and heartbreaking celebration of life and love, a journey fraught with emotional highs and lows and enriched by some of the most endearing characters to ever fall head-over-heels in love on the big screen. Jack and Rose may have “I’ll never let go” trademarked, but the main characters presented here prove equally hard to part ways with.

What this particular adaptation has that many romances often lack — I’ll refrain from comparisons to the book as I have not yet had the opportunity to read it — is a keen awareness of cliché. Director Josh Boone bucks convention wherever he can, despite not being able to flush them out completely. Predictability fails to lessen the blow of what is to come in this case, though.

The Fault in Our Stars is intensely likable, maybe even hauntingly so. In fact it takes a perverse pleasure in constructing a beautiful reality before shattering it into pieces — a hammer into a fabergé egg. Newcomers to the story are introduced to Shailene Woodley’s latest character, while the majority of the audience who have already been following along finally get to see the beautiful Hazel Grace Lancaster reincarnated in visual form.

Hazel, your otherwise typical teenager were it not for the thyroid cancer which has spread to her lungs (hence her portable oxygen tank), insists she is not depressed about her situation. Her parents (Sam Trammell and Laura Dern) likewise insist she attend a cancer support group. Surely that’ll be healthy for her, although Hazel can’t help but scoff at the irony. Fortunately for her, there’s an incentive to keep attending after she meets the handsome and hilarious Gus (Ansel Elgort) whose own cynicism seems to mirror the one she quietly harbors. Immediately sparks fly.

(Meanwhile, Nicholas Sparks is sitting in the back of the theater, furiously taking notes.)

This is, after all, the kind of conviction about a feeling as complex as love that doesn’t come around too often, let alone in a mainstream Hollywood production. As well, the film isn’t just about a couple falling in love. It deals with an extremely weighty concept such as facing mortality.

The Fault in Our Stars tracks the two lovesick youngsters as they embark on a physical and emotional journey that perhaps neither were expecting to experience prior to meeting one another. Gus’ powers of observation — he takes an interest in reading Hazel’s favorite book, written by American author Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) — are responsible for transforming Hazel’s presumably very limited days into a series of extraordinary adventures that simultaneously captivate and devastate.

In addition to extracting mesmerizing performances from it’s young leads, the film accomplishes something else that further separates it from other romances. As the time with Hazel and Gus dwindles, the film feels ever more precious. There’s a very pressing sense of urgency in the film’s closing moments, a desperation for knowing what will become of not only these wonderful characters, but of us in the end. What’s it going to be like? And in these moments the film feels the heaviest, and in effect the most rewarding.

Optimism is neither a word nor a concept The Fault in Our Stars is comfortable with dwelling on. And by the same token, neither is pessimism. The characters aren’t so much fatalists as they are brave. Focus falls on realism and honesty, rather than despair and misery. Yet, there is no escape nor any hiding from fate. A script from Scott Neustadter provides little in the way of shelter from harm, and the result is a story that becomes mightily weighty as it progresses. Though not bereft of comedy completely, it’s fair to say romantic-comedy is a term that does not apply here.

The fault isn’t in the stars, nor is it in the genre of romance. Rather, it’s in Hollywood itself and a general fear of owning up to the truth so readily as John Green and his wonderful characters clearly are.

A Fault In Our Stars

4-0Recommendation: Hard to imagine this being anything but a must-see for those who have read the New York Times Best-seller. However, the adaptation proves to be an incredibly potent drama that deserves to be viewed by a much greater and more diverse audience. Anyone with a sensitivity for believable love stories and memorable personalities be prepared to bring tissues.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 126 mins.

Quoted: “The world is not a wish-granting factory.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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27 thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars

  1. Pingback: The 2014 DigiBread Awards | digitalshortbread

  2. Pingback: The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

  3. Superb and spot-on review, Tom! I especially agree with: “Director Josh Boone bucks convention wherever he can, despite not being able to flush them out completely”. Still, it’s one tht hits hard, mostly thanks to Shailene Woodley, who is amazing in the role.

    • Absolutely man, couldn’t agree more. I was okay with a little cliche here and there. They are virtually inescapable in movies at all. As far as the romance goes, it was tough not to tear up towards the end. These guys put on quite a performance. I really really want to read the book now. I have people expecting me to, as well. 🙂

    • Right you are, sir. I was very much impressed with it. Glad to read yours was similarly praiseworthy.

  4. Despite Twitter providing spoilers for me and knowing the ending…I am still excited to see this one. Due to having a girlfriend..I would have had to see this anyway but luckily…I’m actually just as excited as her. Just ended up viewing everything else first and have not got around to it yet. Your review makes me want to watch it even more. Great touch to poke fun at Nicolas Sparks!

    • Your compulsion to go see it based on having a g/f is slightly chuckle-inducing for some reason. I guess it’s just b/c you have no choice. I can see you getting dragged into this one. But fortunately for you, if you like flesh-and-blood relationships on-screen this one has one of the best I’ve seen. It’s a tough movie, I have to be honest.

      And thanks for the comments; I had to take a strike at Nicholas Sparks. The guy’s a joke. Even more so now, when compared to this. I think he’s got a new film coming out soon, too, right?

      • No, I seriously don’t haha! Because I usually pick the movies and she is forced to tag along even if she is iffy on it! Unless it is horror….in which she refuses and I get a friend to tag along instead. I don’t particularly care for movies that are based around real diseases….because while I love and watch all horror movies….real diseases reflected in realistic movies make me paranoid as hell. I will worry about getting cancer someday throughout the movie…guaranteed!

        Yeah…his idea seems to be…”Hot guy, Hot girl”…this is love dudes!

  5. Goodness, high praise. I’m seeing plenty of good things bring said about this movie yet I simply cannot bring myself to see it! That being said, very solid work sir.

    • 🙂 I took some time out of my way to call you out on your aversion to this film (I think this was posted on Zoe’s blog), but I then realized how hypocritical it made me to do so. There are definitely films. . .big films. . . that come out that I avoid just based on the genre/its reputation. The upcoming Transformers is one such movie, although I doubt I’ll be able to avoid it. So be prepared for a possible scathing review on that later!

      I appreciate it all the same man, some movies are best avoided in the end. 😀

  6. Top write up mate and glad you liked it! I haven’t read the book and it’s not a film I’d really considered seeing to be honest. I think it’ll be one I might catch on TV as I might look a little odd seeing this one on my own 🙂

    • Hey Chris!

      I can understand the off-putting nature of the lovey-dovey romance here. I was so skeptical when trailers first came out. I recalled a great review of the book version over at The Sporadic Chronicles and Zoe had me convinced the book would be a wonderful read. This prompted me to actually see the movie just for curiosity’s sake. I was ultimately very impressed. I know this won’t be the case with many, but I’m just glad I found it to be a very solid, mature film. Unlike many romances I’ve seen.

  7. I saw a trailer for this before Neighbours, and its not even in the ball park for films I normally like…….yet the trailer made me want to watch it and I was a little ashamed of myself. Maybe becoming a father has softened me up. Now I see you giving it rave reviews, and the main lead was pretty good in Carrie (I think its him) so I’ll undoubtedly watch this one day. Nice review as always Tom 🙂

    • I know Tyson, I’m kinda there with you. I mean, I am a fan of great movies but sometimes romances really have to do something impressive to get me to see them. Some of them have such a reputation (The Notebook; Titanic) that I am less impressed by the story than I am about how popular they’ve become. I don’t think either of those films I just mentioned are necessarily bad films just things I think are perhaps overrated. TFIOS could have easily become one of them but in my opinion, it’s a far more matured film than I could have imagined.

      Thanks so much for coming by man, good to see you.

  8. “Meanwhile, Nicholas Sparks is sitting in the back of the theater, furiously taking notes.” – What a gem, truly!

    I am glad to see that you enjoyed it like you did Tom, I thought it was a very good adaption of the book. Go and finish it, it is well worth the read!

    • 😀 Haha thanks, I wrote the word ‘sparks’ and then the idea hit me. I just couldn’t help it lol

      This movie was incredible! I haven’t even started reading the book yet, though Zoe!!! I’m so sorry haha. I look very much forward to diving in though, this relationship had me convinced from the get-go. Hook, line and sinker.

      • Well, it certainly gave me my giggle for the day hahaha!

        Oh hahaha I thought you had started and never finished. Not that it changes the fact that you should find some time 😉 Well worth it, easy read, and brilliant. It’s a stunner of a relationship, and so much more fleshed out in the book!

    • I don’t see these types of films all that often if I’m honest, but this time I was about blown away. It’s a very powerful film, I wasn’t expecting the intensity! 😀

      I hope to read something from you soon good sir.

    • Cheers Alex, I watched this without reading and thought it to be brilliant, so the film product alone is solid. Comparing it to the book seems to be making readers happy as well, I hear it’s quite faithful. Hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

    • 😀 I am a big old softy!! If you poked me hard enough, stuffing just falls out. . . . .

      TFIOS is pretty excellent stuff man, I was very very happily surprised

      • on second thought on the above comment, that stuffing bit doesn’t sound right.

        #mindoutofthegutter

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