Shailene Woodley stars in the movie adaptation of John Green's best-selling young adult novel, "The Fault in Our Stars." In the role of a lifetime, Woodley plays Hazel, a 16-year-old struggling with terminal cancer. This poignant, heartrending and incredibly funny movie shows Woodley at her best. The role is challenging, and Woodley plays it to perfection.
Directed by Josh Boone, "The Fault in Our Stars" is a perfect combination of tragic, yet infinitely likable characters, navigating through the difficult waters of growing up while also managing larger existential issues.
"The Fault in Our Stars" is a romantic comedy-drama about two teenage cancer patients who fall in love. Hazel, played by Woodley, is suffering from Stage 4 cancer and being kept alive by an experimental drug. She meets Gus (played by Ansel Elgort), whose cancer is in remission, at a support group for children with cancer. Despite their very different personalities, the chemistry between them is immediate.
Hazel Grace Lancaster
As a character, Hazel is extremely complex. She is an only child and is very close to her parents. She graduated early from high school and has little to do with other teenagers. She is extremely witty, a bit introverted and unconcerned with pop culture.
Hazel's illness separates her from other people. She knows that her condition is terminal, and she chooses to distance herself from others in order to minimize the impact her death will have. Hazel's parents insist that she attend the support group meetings because they think she is depressed. When she meets Gus, she responds to him immediately, but does not allow herself to get close to him. She attempts to ignore her feelings for Gus.
In contrast, Gus is extremely charismatic and outgoing. He carries himself with attractive self-assurance. He is very direct about his feelings for Hazel.
Eventually, Hazel gives into the feelings she has for Gus. They bond through the experience of cancer, as well as shared interests. They can joke about the outward signs of their ill health — Hazel's oxygen tank and Gus' prosthetic leg.
Far from being a sign of coldness, Hazel's reluctance to get close to anyone is a sign of enormous emotional maturity. However, it also blocks her from experiencing the limited time she has left. Gus pulls her out into the world and forces her to experience life. He adds excitement to her life and teaches her make every moment memorable.
Shailene Woodley is lovely as Hazel. The fact that Woodley is several years older than the character she plays works to her advantage. She pulls off the teenage angst combined with the wisdom that comes from living with a terminal illness.
Woodley was most recently seen in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's "Divergent." After playing the tough character, Tris, in the action film, she neatly transitioned to the thoughtful and delicate Hazel. Her short haircut gives her a gamine look that is just right for this role. She is cute and likeable and thoroughly believable.
Woodley is best-known for her role as teenage mother Amy Juergens on ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." She won the Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her role in 2011's "The Descendants" with George Clooney.
Woodley is perfectly paired with Elgort (who played her brother in "Divergent"). He embodies the charm, wit and good looks that every teenage girl wants in a first boyfriend, combined with the higher thinking of someone exposed to the grim realities of life.
Woodley and Elgort look good together and seem to enjoy each other's company. Their on-screen chemistry appears to be very natural. The characters that they are tackling are extremely powerful and require a tremendous amount of emotional effort to portray effectively. Woodley and Elgort do a wonderful job.
In this movie, Shailene Woodley returns to the kind of acting that gained her attention for "The Descendants." Her approach to the role of Hazel is subtle and simple. She does not try to make her perfect, and the viewer can see Hazel becoming increasingly vibrant inside, even as her physical self continues to deteriorate.
"The Fault in Our Stars" is both heartwarming and heartrending at the same time. An intensely character-driven film, the relationship between Hazel and Gus is unconventional and yet utterly believable. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort do a fantastic job of portraying these two characters. They have the audience rooting for them, individually and as a couple, from the very beginning.