Glowing reviews and worldwide appraisal, hailed a tear-jerker of ‘Titanic’ proportions, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is a heart aching story of young love in the midst of death – unfortunately, it is certainly not without it’s faults, says Jane Casey
Based on the best selling young adult novel of the same name by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars takes us on a humbling journey through the “little bit of infinity” of cancer patients, 16 year old Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and 18 year old Augustus (Gus) Waters (Ansel Elgort).
Under the guidance of her parents, only child and cynic Hazel begrudgingly agrees to attend a cancer support group for teens, only to have her perspective on life turned 180 when she meets the smooth talking, optimistic, oh-so-dreamy cancer survivor Gus. From there, the two become inseparable – trading private jokes, talking on the phone for hours – the fact that both teens have faced aggressive cancers is merely incidental, as the theme that shines through how they navigate their way through first loves and adolescence.
Hazel and Gus travel to Amsterdam to track down her favourite reclusive author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Defoe) to get some answers about the meaning of her favourite book before she inevitably dies. While on the trip, the two couple face some hard truths about their relationship.
Woodley, “it girl” of the moment after her role in the film adapation of dystopian novel Divergent, is stunning in the role of Hazel, the headstrong lead. With this role, she changed her up-and-comer status into that of a bonafide leading lady. She perfectly hovers between the aged beyond her years teen who has faced her mortality so many times that it doesn’t faze her, and the normal girl who lets her guard down when the cute guy brings her flowers. Exchanging glances, trying to hold back a smile, awkwardly flirting – she completely encompasses the teen experience despite her extraordinary circumstance, making the story even more poignant. Her oxygen tank and nose cannulas are the only subtle reminder that she is dying.
Woodley’s Hazel is perfect, which makes her less seasoned co-star, Ansel Elgort come across as amateur. Between a flawed screenplay and naff line delivery, over enthusiastic Gus leaves you cringing for 90% of his screen time.
To say The Fault in Our Stars is a bad movie would be inaccurate, and one would have to be heartless not to empathise with or even shed a tear at the emotional ending. What I will say, is that the story felt unrealistic and at times, cringe inducing.
The romantic story is to meant be the epicentre of the emotional journey – but for me it was the subtle struggles that Hazel had to go through day to day that really tugged on the heart strings. Gasping for breath as her cancer ridden lungs failed her at even the easiest of tasks as walking up a staircase, lugging around an oxygen tank, seeing the pain in her parents eyes as they watch their daughter’s good days dwindling.
While I commend director Josh Boone (Stuck in Love) for even acknowledging these everyday tragedies, they always took second place to a boy that she only knew for a few months.
Although Ansel Elgort definitely keeps the giant teen-girl fan base happy, it leaves older audiences gagging for a more multi-dimensional story.
While this is a nice departure from the usual teen narrative, and definitely worth a look, don’t expect the ground breaking instant classic that the media is making in out to be. For me, it was a Twilight-style love story, masked as an indie tearjerker.
The Fault in Our Stars is out on June 19.
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