There’s a multitude of ways that movie adaptations of books can go. They can span from an absolute abomination that gets fans of the novel rallied up against the atrocity they see on screen or it can be a very faithful representation that preserves the subject matter in the best of ways. The Fault of Stars is the latter.
Hazel Grace could be your every day 16 year old girl. Her time is filled with reality TV series, while obsessing and re-reading her favorite novel. Except she walks around with nasal cannula connected to a tank of oxygen that she carries around wherever she goes. Hazel Grace has terminal thyroid cancer with lung metastasis. The cancer is held at bay with a wonder drug in clinical trials – but it’s just that: barely held there, capable of getting her fragile body to collapse at any given moment.
At the request of her mother, Hazel goes to Cancer Support meetings carried out at the litteral heart of Jesus. She hates them. You see, Hazel Grace is not your average fictive cancer patient who relishes in the idea of telling her cancer story over and over again, while identifying with those who share her disease. No, she seeks normality in any way she could find. A Cancer Support meeting, however, is where she stumbles on Augustus Waters, an 18 year old boy with a limp. Augustus had been free of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, for 14 months now. Full of positivity and always upbeat to Hazel’s constant demure, Augustus sets out on changing her entire perspective on life… even about the significance of a cigarette between one’s teeth.
As I said yesterday, it’s easy to dismiss The Fault In Our Stars as a tale for hormonal teenage girls. But this movie is anything but. It’s gut-wrenching, exceedingly tough to watch at times for an average viewer who has never been exposed to the atrocities of cancer that are represented in the most real of ways on screen. Sure, there are some inescapable cliches here and there, but the people I watched the movie with – not hormonal teenage girls, for the record – all found the movie exceedingly tough to watch. It’s not the kind of tough that makes you feel run over by a truck once the credits roll; It’s the kind of tough that – for a moment – gives you a perspective over how lucky you are to be sitting in that cinema chair, not with a nasal cannula as your main way of breathing.
The Fault In Our Stars is bolstered by a pair of great lead performances that elevate it to what it is. Shailene Woodley, on a cinematic roll with “The Spectacular Now” and “Divergent,” is an absolute wonder to watch on screen. Not many young actresses can pull off the role of Hazel Grace the way that she does. The nuances with which she infuses her character are A-rate. The camera lingers just a little longer for a lot of moments on Hazel Grace’s face – those moments help you encompass the scope of the emotion span that Woodley’s character is going through. They also help you make sense of how it is to be those characters, living those lives.
On the other side of the cinematic lead is Ansel Elgort, whose first major role came in the atrocity of a movie called “Carrie” and who also shared screen time as Woodley’s on-screen brother in “Divergent,” is a reveal. While most of us knew Woodley had the cinematic chops to carry on the role with an Academy Award nomination under her belt already for her role in “The Descendants,” I – for one – never thought Elgort would pull off Augustus Waters as well as he did. He spans the entire shades of his character throughout the movie effortlessly, from positivity to fragility, from strength to weakness. He balances Woodley’s act in the best of ways.
The movie wouldn’t be as it is without the decent screenplay that it has. Those who are wary the movie might have ruined the book need not be afraid as John Green had a lot to do with the screenplay at hand. Another entity that could easily be overlooked for The Fault In Our Stars is the stunning soundtrack it bolsters. I personally can’t get enough of some of the songs there – so make sure you give it a listen.
At the end of the day, The Fault In Our Stars is a movie about human fortitude. It’s a rare thing to have such a theme embodied on screen and this movie does a great job at it. Is it for all tastes? Probably not. But it’s also not as easy to dismiss as many would like to. The Fault In Our Stars the kind of movies that stem power from them being truthful, realistic and – ultimately – human. Go watch it. Okay?