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Cancer and love, not always in that order

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The Fault in Our Stars

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Tearjerkers have a strong following amongst its fans. Any serious movie fan loves to recall the movies that moved them to tears. Some titles make more sense than others, but like any category, it has a handful of musts. “The Notebook” is likely the most recent addition to the classic tearjerker list. The newest entry to the subgenre arrived this weekend as “The Fault in Our Stars.”

Shailene Woodley continues her red-hot ascension to the A-list as Hazel, a terminally ill seventeen-year-old girl. Her life has been reduced to indoor activities and a mostly isolated existence. She attends a support group for others who survived or are living with cancer. At one such meeting, she meets a handsome young boy named Augustus (Ansel Elgort). Despite the shared experience with cancer, the two develop a strong bond. As the world opens up to the two of them, they fall in love.

Having a film that centers on those with terminal illness can make for heavy material. Regardless of the comedic elements and tenderness introduced as the story unfolds, it still exists in an environment when a dark cloud follows the characters around. Woodley grounds Hazel in a rich, palpable authenticity that the film feels real at times. Backed by a solid supporting cast as her parents and a great minor role for Willem Dafoe, “The Fault in Our Stars” connects with the audience.

Tearjerkers are known for certain tropes, and “The Fault in Our Stars” has some. Events unfold in a predictable and familiar manner. The success of the film rests in the depth at which Woodley and Elgort explore their chemistry and coax the viewer in closer. A surprisingly enjoyable counterprogram to the blockbuster season. 3 out of 5 stars.

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