Never underestimate the power of a best selling book when it becomes a movie, especially when it is one favored by teenaged girls. That's why the Twilight movies were so popular even though none of them were any good. Even the last entry in that franchise blew it when it was revealed that "It was all a dream." You may never had heard of "The Fault in Our Stars" outside of being a quote by Shakespeare, but if you are unaware of how popular this book is, you'll understand when you see the movie opening today, June 6.
Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) is a teenaged girl with cancer. The disease has affected her so badly, that she must carrying around an oxygen tank wherever she goes. In an effort to help get her out of the house, her parents make her go to a cancer support group. Hazel is not really into it until she bumps into Gus (Ansel Elgort) a teenaged cancer survivor. The two start a relationship, but how long can it last before the C word intervenes?
Unless your heart is made of stone, when you go see "The Fault in Our Stars" you know it's going to make you cry. At an advanced screening in Adventura earlier this week, you could actually hear the theater collectively weep at times. Shortly afterwards, you can then hear lots of people sniffing. When you hear an entire movie theater "SNIFF SNIFF" at the same time, it's not something that you experience too often, if at all. Other times you can hear squealing whenever something that delighted the girls happened, like when Hazel and Gus first meet. The movie can make you cry fine on its own, but there are times when you sense they are putting in an effort to do so, like playing real dramatic music while the action on screen is moving in slow motion when something traumatic is going on.
One of the factors that help this movie work so well are the performances by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. The two had just played brother and sister earlier this year in "Divergent", so they had already gotten the chance to know each other well before filming began on this movie. The relationship between the two felt real as do the characters themselves. Nothing appeared to be forced or fake. Hazel narrates parts of the movie and often her commentary can be fun, which helps us to like her even more. Woodley can drop a tear out of her eye as if by command. She is a very strong actress who has been on quite a roll lately.
Josh Boone is the director of "The Fault in Our Stars" and even though this is only his second feature, he does well. The editing is a little off, but after his previous effort with "Stuck in Love" he so far shows that he is very comfortable in this genre. He makes some smart choices, like having emails and texts appear on screen in an animated form. He picked a great score to accompany the movie that he can command such a wide range of emotions with it. While tears will be shed during this movie, there are some good laughs too.
May produced an awful slate of movies this year. Even on a weekend when you got two big releases when you hope one of the movie would be good, none of them were. June is beginning to right the ship as we now have two good releases this weekend. "The Fault in Our Stars" is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language.