Based on the bestselling novel by John Green (which I loved) The Fault In Our Stars has exploded into the summer box office making great numbers for a romantic drama. But can it possibly be as good as the book?
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is 16 years old and has terminal cancer. Kept alive by an experiemental drug and dragging round a tank of oxygen with her everywhere she thinks she knows what to expect from her probably short life. Then into her cancer support group comes Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), an eighteen year old boy in remission who lost his leg to cancer. As the two bond over Hazel’s favourite book and seek to contact the author, they find themselves slowly falling in love despite Hazel’s terminal situation.
OK from that summary above this film sounds like a overly sentimental affair with all the cliches that you come to expect from these kinds of films. The fact that The Fault In Our Stars avoids most of these tropes makes it special in itself. That fact that you care so much about the characters make it exceptional.
I may be biased becuase I’ve read and loved the book but I loved this film. I was nervous beforehand considering how much I liked the book but this is a faithful adaptation that does justice to John Green’s novel. The two lead characters are wonderful-snarky, funny, intellegent, heartwarming. You feel like you could be friends with these characters. They are played brilliantly by Woodley and Algort. Both roles must have been difficult to cast but Woodley makes for a likeable and sympathetic lead and Algort steers his character away from being the bland romantic lead to give Augustus charisma and believeability even when he’s sprouting his philosphoical musing. We also get to see Gus’s more vunerable side as he worries that one day he’ll fall into oblivion and he will have left the world withoutmaking a mark. Something which Hazel has long resigned herself to before Gus came along. The chemistry between them is fantastic, so much so I can’t imagine them playing brother and sister in Divergent.
Of course there are faults to be had with the movie. Although Grace’s parents are great (played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) some of the other supporting characters are either written out or reduced. Augustus’ best friend Issac gets sidelined into more of a comedic role than I remember in the book. Some viewers may also find the scene where Hazel and Gus kiss at the Anne Frank House a bit distasteful although I just saw it as them realising they should seize the moment while they have the chance (the clapping from the other visitors was a bit much though).
I got so into this film that I started crying about halfway through the movie-to my embarassment. I can’t garentee you’ll cry like I did but I think even the hardest of hearts may find themselves falling under the spell of Hazel and Gus.
But I would also recomend you read the book first because it’s so wonderful and adds so much more to their story in the way the film doesn’t have time to.
Rating 4.5/5 – with wonderful performances from Woodley and Algort I can’t fault this adapation of one of my favourite books of recent years