The Fault in Our Stars

Movie Review #762

fault_in_our_stars

Directed by Josh Boone. Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber. (Book: John Green.) Produced by Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey for Temple Hill Entertainment. Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, and Willem Dafoe. Premiered at Seattle International Film Festival on May 16, 2014. Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Fox 2000 Pictures in New York City, New York on June 2, 2014; and in wide release on June 6, 2014. Rated PG-13: thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language. Runs 125 minutes. (Alternate version: 121 minutes.)

Cinemaniac Reviews four stars

Is it just me, or is Shailene Woodley on the path to becoming just what Molly Ringwald was for the John Hughes Era, three decades later?  In the last year, she has made two films with screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber: “The Spectacular Now” and “The Fault in Our Stars” (“TFiOS”).  When I watched “The Spectacular Now”, I was taken by surprise.  I felt that I had seen a modern classic, and more importantly, that I’d seen a candid, poignant, and lovable drama that actually seemed to understand how teens see the world around them.  It’s simply miraculous that nine months later, “TFiOS” has been released, and it evokes that exact same reaction.

Shailene Woodley plays the part of Hazel Grace Lancaster in this story.  She battles cancer, and she carries around a portable oxygen tank everywhere, because her lungs “suck at being lungs.”  Knowing that she has cancer has forced her to live in boredom and, though not according to Hazel herself, depression.  Her mother believes that group therapy will make her a happier person.  While initially she hates group therapy, it’s here that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort).  Augustus’s cancer has granted him a prosthetic leg, but he’d rather look past that.  He’s optimistic and clever (often in the same ways), and he encourages Hazel to live life to its fullest, rather than allowing cancer to consumer her.  They fall in love “slowly, then all at once.”

Notice that I’m pulling quotes straight out of the movie, and truthfully, it’s a bit difficult not to.  “TFiOS” emanates the same quirk and wit as John Green’s book of the same name (which I would read before watching).  This is clear right from the start of the movie, actually, because when Hazel gives a narration, it isn’t the direct, formal narration we get in most movies.  Instead, it’s casual and inviting.  Screenwriters Neustadter and Weber have adapted the novel that is faithful to the novel’s style and its substance.  Their script is in good hands.  Like many directors, Josh Boone has constructed a merely tolerable film debut (“Stuck in Love”, from two suns ago), only to strike silver and gold with his second turn (“TFiOS”).  His honest, heartfelt look at the two leading characters only makes their chemistry even greater.

This is the optimal adaptation of the John Green book.  It’s often as if Green wrote and directed the entire thing, though interestingly enough, his involvement in the production amounted to a simple acknowledgement of his source material.  I’m betting, though, that even if the author had written and directed, it couldn’t have been a much better movie.  What I’m trying to say is that “The Fault in Our Stars” contains very little room for improvement, okay?  Okay.

– Alexander Diminiano

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23 thoughts on “The Fault in Our Stars

  1. Okay. 🙂

    Definitely a very good adaptation of an even better book.

    Oh and I’d be surprised if Woodley goes the way of Ringwald. The former is a much better actor than the latter. My guess is Woodley goes the way of Jennifer Lawrence (or Jodie Foster) and becomes a mega-star that transcends teen characters.

  2. It’s such a coincidence you mention Molly Ringwald because after I saw this I went home and watched Pretty In Pink. Not the greatest screenplay John Hughes ever wrote but it was cute. I still feel like she went for the wrong guy.

    Oh yeah I’m getting off track. This a review for The Fault in Our Stars. Loved it.,

  3. During my lengthy hiatus (too much vacation, no time whatsoever), I’ve been debating whether or not to see this movie. I read reviews, and as an avid follower of Richard Roeper, the moment he said Shailene Woodley was Oscar-worthy, I was hooked. And you giving this film a 4/4 just encourages me even more. Great review!

    • Thanks! And yeah, I think I forgot to mention that in the review. She actually IS Oscar-worthy. My biggest worry is that the Academy will overlook this one because it wasn’t released in awards season. If anything, she should get a nod (or, better yet, a win) at the Golden Globes, as she’s a previous nominee there, for The Descendants.

      Have you read the book yet? Not that it’s a necessity, but I’d recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. Mostly so you know what to expect.

      • I’ve read the book and it was absolutely fantastic. Her performance in Divergent is questionable, so I was worried there for a bit. However, we have to remember what happened with Beasts of the Southern Wild. That film was released on June 27, 2012, outside of the awards season. However, this film is released considerably earlier. And Golden Globes tends to be more…allowing, than the Oscars, so if she gets nominated anywhere, my bet is the Golden Globes. I still haven’t seen it (my guess is I’ll see it tomorrow), but I honestly can’t wait. I would want to see it at DYWC on that Saturday, but it’s PG-13, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 comes out on June 13. No luck there 😦

  4. Good review. I get that even though it didn’t work for me, it most likely will for others. I understand that, it’s just some problem I had with this movie and I couldn’t ever fix.

    • I’ve read some bad reviews for the movie. Usually even when I love a movie to death, I can understand where the detractors are coming from, but with The Fault in Our Stars, they seemed like they watched a different movie. You aren’t among those who’ve called it “cloying” and such, are you? That I don’t understand.

      Sent from my iPhone

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