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The Fault in Our Stars Review: Don’t Just Bring the Tissues, Use the Nettie Pot

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The Fault in Our Stars

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

The Fault in Our Stars was written by John Green, who appears to be a huge nerd, which explains why this story is way more interesting than most stories in the Teen Romance genre. This writer had not read the book before the film, but now plans to read the novel and other novels written by John Green. It’s good to see a Teen Romance that isn’t doesn’t have a crappy, overly saccharinely, vomit inducing tone. The best thing about the film is that the characters, both major and minor are well fleshed out. Even characters that only appear in one or two scenes feel relevant when they are on screen. That shows that the director Josh Boone and the screen writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber really put a lot of care into the novel they brought to life on the big screen. It’s always good to see men who aren’t Joss Whedon who are able to tell stories with strong female characters.
An unfortunate convention in films based on popular novels, especially popular novels marketed to teens, is that studios take the fact that the stories have dedicated fan bases for granted. They see the stories as something to sell for quick easy money. While the Harry Potter films were good in general, many beloved characters from the books (Bill Weasley and Tonks, for example) were reduced to token appearances where they simply introduced themselves to The Boy Who Lived. Divergent, where the two main actors from The Fault In Our Stars: Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, played siblings; most of the characters were indistinct from one another and simply unmemorable. Perhaps it wasn’t weird seeing Woodley and Elgort playing a couple in this film because Elgort’s character was so unremarkable in Divergent (the film, not the book).
Another annoying convention in Teen Drama Romances is that there are often “big name stars” cast in the film in order to provide names on the posters(Note to studio execs: popular stories don’t need big name actors, they need actors who are right to bring beloved characters to life). The big name stars often seem bored with the films they are in. In The Fault in Our Stars, Laura Dern Plays Hazel’s(Woodley) mother. She is wonderful and fully loses herself in the role. Willem Dafoe plays a small, but important part in the film. Despite the fact that he is a high caliber actor, he does not overwhelm his scenes and neither does Dern. Another stand out performance is by Nat Wolf as Isaac, Augustus’ (Elgort) good friend who also has cancer and going through his own personal struggles. He brings a lot of humor to the film, though he is not simple comic relief. Hopefully he’ll get some more good roles in the future.
This writer is certainly glad that the insipid show The Secret Life of the American Teenager didn’t destroy Shaliene Woodley’s career or cause her to be pigeon holed. Time after time she has shown she is a great actress and she continues to do so in The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is a compelling character to watch. She doesn’t fit into any annoying teenage girl stereotypes: She is neither overly sweet and compliant nor overly angry and sour faced. She isn’t completely obsessed with fashion, but she has an appreciation for nice clothes. She cares about others more than herself, but not in an extreme Abnegation sense. She occasionally gets annoyed with her parents, but never really lashes out at them. Augustus is a boy who doesn’t fit into annoying teen boy stereotypes. He isn’t the bad boy or the player who is redeemed by that one special girl. He also isn’t the goody goody mamma’s boy. The relationship is refreshing to watch. We don’t have the overly done good girl bad boy romance nor the rich boy, poor girl. We also don’t have the overbearing disapproving parents. The parents in this film are certainly concerned for their children, but they want to see them happy. Hazel and Augustus are honest with each other (mostly). They don’t try to put on a show. They also even express disagreement from time to time.
This writer would recommend this film to just about anyone. It would be especially good for people who didn’t want to watch 50/50 because it was rated R and contained many elements that justified the R rating (but that was still a great film). The reason this film works so well is that there is a lot of joy in it. That joy makes the painful and tragic moments even more effective. In last summer’s Man of Steele, this writer didn’t shed any tear for Jonathan Kent when he died. All of Clark’s memories of him centered around him telling Clark that the work was not ready (for Superman). There were no happy memories. Whenever Joss Whedon or JK Rowling killed characters in their stories, there was a lot of grief because those characters brought so much joy. Such is the case with Hazel and Augustus. They bring joy to each other and the people around them. This writers recommends that people who live in the Miami Valley or any other place where allergies are high to not only bring a box of tissues, but to use Nettie pots or nasal sprays before going to see the film. Seriously there is plenty of nose blowing to do. This writer will most likely pre-order the DVD on Amazon. It’s worth watching over and over.

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