The Fault in Our Stars is not the type of film I would usually seek out to watch. I don’t like to be depressed by a film, I want to be submerged into another world and enjoy the experience. Teenage angst and coming of age stories aren’t really my cup of tea either… BUT having read good things about this film, my friends persuaded me to see it at the cinema… and I am honestly glad of it.
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (both from mind-blowingly mediocre recent flick Divergent) play the lead roles in this romantic adaptation of John Green’s novel, about a 16 year old cancer patient named Hazel Grace (Woodley) who falls in love with Augustus (Elgort), who she meets at her support group. Interestingly the title comes from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ where Cassiuis says to Brutus “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” … Well I thought that was interesting any how :)
At first glance the story line seems predictable and unimaginative, however I found the script and the chemistry between the characters very natural and I was hooked within the first 20 minutes. The bond that is formed between the two leads is quite magical to watch unfold, and I felt the progression of their infatuation for each other was shown in a very tasteful way without ever forgetting they are just teenagers.
Hazel Grace’s relationship with her mother played by Laura Dern, was a particular highlight, and I was delighted to see True Blood star Sam Trammell take the role of her father. Their family unit felt very authentic and the way the film explored how the parents were coping with having a terminally ill child was very moving.
What was refreshing to see, was the slightly more raw scenes that focused on the realistic and dark side of terminal illness as well as bringing some darker humor to the situation. Mostly in the case of Hazel and Augustus’ friend Isaac played by Nat Wolff. These are the scenes you feel most connected to the characters and where the film builds up the audience’s empathy for them and their situations. Surprisingly great performances from Woodley and Elgort really make all the difference here. In particular Elgort’s Augustus who takes some warming to as a cocky, over confident, dork (I mean that in the nicest way possible) but somehow manages to win you over despite his cringeworthy metaphors and romantic lines.
With the help of a great performance from Willem Dafoe, you can expect the unexpected for the majority of this film. Unfortunately for me the trailer gave too many tell tale signs of what happened in the end, but it in no way spoiled my enjoyment. And yes, I do mean enjoyment, even though I cried so hard I almost sobbed out loud in a packed cinema, the over all experience is enjoyable, and the rest is thought provoking, sincere, raw and heart warming.
My POV, I wouldn’t suggest that this film is for everyone, but I have to say sometimes a good cry and a slap in the face puts things in perspective and makes you feel pretty refreshed afterwards. If you are feeling blue about life, this film will probably make you realise… it isn’t that bad.