The Fault In Our Stars film was released last week and I was delighted to go see it on Saturday. This has been one of those films I’ve been both eagerly anticipating and partially dreading since I first learned about it being adapted from the book of the same name. I liked the book and there’s always the risk when you enjoyed the book that the film is going to be a poor imitation. This is not the case with the Fault In Our Stars.
For those of you unfamiliar with this book, the film follows the story of Hazel, a seventeen year old girl with cancer. Having accepted that her lifespan is limited, Hazel is just going though the motions whilst she waits for the end. Hazel’s mother fearing that her daughter is depressed forces Hazel to attend a local support group for teens with cancer. It’s there that Hazel meets Augustus Waters. Augustus, who is in remission, is vibrant and full of life. He has an infectious energy and Hazel is drawn to him. What follows is a beautifully bitter-sweet story about two star-crossed lovers finding each other against the odds.
I thought the casting was amazing. I had my doubts when first learning who would be playing the lead roles but it did not take long before I was absorbed by Hazel and I thought Shailene Woodley was a great choice. She was Hazel for me. Her interactions with her family, Gus and Isaac were heartfelt and realistic within the bounds of fiction. Likewise with Ansel Algort. I’m not sure I could come up with two better actors to play Hazel and Gus. The on-screen chemistry between Hazel and Gus was a pleasure to watch. I think it says a lot about the actors when before any dialogue is exchanged between the two, they can have an entire conversation though their eyebrow expressions and have an entire cinema in hysterics.
It’s not easy for a movie studio to make a romantic movie where the lead characters are living with disabilities (but not defined by them).
— John Green (@realjohngreen) June 8, 2014
In this – I think the film succeeded. Hazel is not healthy. Her lungs are letting her down and the nasal tubes she wears don’t let us forget it. And despite this being a film where many of the main characters have been impacted by cancer – it’s not all about the cancer. Rather it is about the relationships.
This film had the potential to be depressing and whilst I’ll admit to shedding a few tears, it was the perfect mix of heartbreaking and humorous. It is incredibly funny at times. There are scenes which I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and the combination of funny and sad works beautifully in this film right up until the end.
There’s a quote in Good Will Hunting where Robin William’s character says something along the lines of something or someone may not be perfect but it might be perfect for you – and that’s the way I feel about The Fault in Our Stars. Purists may say it was missing some of the most moving lines from the book. They may say that some of the supporting characters had fatal flaws regarding their emotions and what not.
But this film was perfect for me.
I left the cinema and just wanted to pause a moment to process my emotions regarding the film. I thought it was beautiful. I fell in love with Hazel and Gus and wanted to see the film a second time to see if they would make me feel that way again – and I practically NEVER re-watch films. This was a case for me where I enjoyed the film more than I did the book.
I understand that perhaps part of this was being able to go to a screening with a bunch of fans as passionate (if not more passionate) about the story as I was and that sometimes others’ opinions tend to shape and influence my own but I don’t think this is entirely the case with The Fault in Our Stars. It is a heart warming, soul crushing incredible film but in the best kind of way.
It was a beautiful adaptation and one I recommend for people who loved the book and those who didn’t even know it was based on a novel. But a warning – tissues may be required.