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'The Fault in Our Stars' Movie Review

Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley
20th Century Fox

The Fault in Our Stars

Rating:
Star4
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‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is an emotionally powerful teen drama. It’s a heartwrenching love story. It’s about two young people that were dealt unlucky hands in life. They understand life has been terribly unfair to them but they don’t give up. They find the strength to live their lives to the fullest. We’re all living with the threat of death looming over us. This film eloquently shows how you don’t always need to live a long life to lead a meaningful one. It raises thought-provoking questions of life, love and loss. The film adaptation of John Green’s bestselling YA Novel hits all the right notes and will tug at your heart strings.

The opening voice-over begins, “I believe we have a choice in this world about how to tell sad stories,” 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) tells the audience, “On the one hand, you can sugarcoat it – nothing is too messed up that it can’t be fixed with a Peter Gabriel song. I like that version as much as the next girl does.” Unfortunately, she knows that’s not the truth. Despite being diagnosed with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, Hazel is a bright girl that accepts her fate. Her constant companion is an oxygen tank with plastic tubes fastened to her nostrils. Woodley’s performance is so natural and effortless that after a while, you don’t even notice them. She refuses to allow the illness to define her.

Her loving mom Frannie (Laura Dern) urges her to attend a support group for cancer survivors. She reluctantly goes to please her mother but happens to meet a new boy at one of the meetings. Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) introduces himself to the group and reveals that he lost part of his leg to cancer. He proclaims, “I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up.” Hazel and Gus form an immediate connection. The banter between them is smart. Director Josh Boone gives their relationship time to develop. Their budding romance doesn’t seem rushed like in so many other teen films. The dialogue feels genuine thanks to the witty screenplay by the writing duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now). The film is loaded with memorable quotes.

The relationship between Hazel and Gus is palpable. They have differences like any real couple. He’s a romantic. She’s a straight-shooter. Gus likes video games and Hazel likes books. Gus believes everyone has a purpose and he wants to leave an indelible legacy. On the other hand, Hazel is concerned about the people she leaves behind in her wake. “I’m a grenade,” she says, “One day I’m going to explode, and I feel it’s my responsibility to minimize the casualties.” Gus is just what the doctor ordered. She eventually lets her guard down to his unabashed optimism. One scene personifies Gus perfectly when he places an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Hazel is disgusted by it until Gus explains, “They don’t actually hurt you unless you light them. I never lit one. It’s a metaphor, see. You put the thing that does the killing right between your teeth, but you never give it the power to kill you. A metaphor.”

The film has a moving subplot dealing with Hazel’s favorite book titled, ‘An Imperial Affliction’ written by a reclusive author named Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) based in Amsterdam. Gus surprises Hazel with a Make-A-Wish trip to Amsterdam. The cinematography along the canals is gorgeous. It’s a romantic backdrop for the two young lovers as their trip culminates with a visit to Anne Frank’s house. It’s poignant as Hazel breathlessly climbs the tiny staircase up to the attic. It’s an overpowering scene as Hazel finds meaning in her own suffering. Woodley and Elgort have terrific chemistry together. There is something so disarmingly natural about Woodley’s performance. She lights up the screen and never hits a false note. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is the best love story of the year and should not be missed. Check out the official trailer http://youtu.be/9ItBvH5J6ss.