The Fault in Our Stars (2014) started out as a young adult novel penned by John Green. The story focuses on Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), who meet in a cancer support group, or as they like to call it, ‘the literal heart of Jesus.’ The two teenagers, both living with different forms of cancer, have a special bond that develops into a very poignant romance. Though their time together may be limited, they discover that “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”
The film does very well in keeping to a strict adaptation. The moments that have been changed, reordered, or omitted seem to work well, without compromising the original material or imposing some new idea on it. As a result, how the actors portray these beloved characters becomes the most compelling novelty. Since the book is so special, fans want to see on screen the people they imagined. On opening night, the theater collectively had an anxious energy almost as if everyone was anticipating the moment that the actors would strike a false note. Luckily, much to the director John Boone’s credit, Hazel and Gus are the two most important puzzle pieces and casting Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort was the best decision they could have made.
Shailene’s performance is incredibly dynamic. She is able to really capture the sassy wit of Hazel without making her too alienating or sarcastic. Also, Hazel is sixteen in the book. Shailene, on the other hand, is in her early twenties. Shailene has mentioned in multiple interviews that the producers initially did not want to hire her as they felt she was too old. However, through her acting, primarily how she responds to Gus’ advances with a giddy, childlike glee, she appears to be a teenager. Ansel, the less experienced actor of the two, is able to hold his own on screen. His best moments are the serious scenes when he is in the hospital waiting room and hoping Hazel is okay, during the love scene when he declares how lucky he is, and when he tells Hazel he is no longer NEC. Ansel is certainly an up-and-coming actor to watch and it will be exciting to see how he grows as an artist.
Go see these two in the most wonderfully heartbreaking story of the year.