Purist fans of John Green’s hugely popular Young Adult novel should be satisfied with the film adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars;” director Josh Boone respects the original material’s charm, wit, courage, and, above all, sincerity. This is not a Lifetime cancer movie full of melodrama and phony inspiration but rather a tragic though real love story.
Faced with the pessimism and depression of slowly dying of cancer, Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is encouraged by both her doctor and her mother (Laura Dern) to attend a cancer support group at a nearby church. Hazel’s routine, closed off life is changed when she meets Isaac (Nat Wolff) and his attractive friend in remission, Augustus (Ansel Elgort). Aware of her always nearing death, Hazel shuts most people out of her life in an attempt to limit the pain felt at her death, but Gus refuses to be left out and pursues her. They share their interests with each other, including Hazel’s love for a thoughtful novel about a girl with cancer. Together, the couple seeks out more information from the author (Willem Dafoe), but Hazel’s health is a constant challenge.
Almost exactly like the book, “The Fault in Our Stars” has a few necessary cuts to contain the length of the film but maintains the heart of the story’s characters. Most significantly, the casting embodies the characters with pure candor and sweet emotion. One hopes for future successes for Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, as they portray such personable, witty, and adorable teens with wisdom beyond their years. Neither Willem Dafoe nor Laura Dern is whom I expected after reading the book (I imagined more of Jared Harris or Werner Herzog and Margo Martindale, respectively), but they remarkably pull off their characters.
Kids might enjoy Shailene Woodley from films such as “Divergent” or her earlier portrayal in the American Girl classic “Felicity,” however, you will probably want to have a conversation with preteens and younger before taking them to “The Fault in Our Stars.” Despite its humorous perspective, “TFiOS” is a very serious movie that deals with real life hardships. Hazel carries the oxygen tank around with her wherever she goes and reminds the audience of her daily struggle to even breathe. It’s a powerful film that is an honest portrayal of both cancer and teenage life; loss of virginity and looming death are both heavy weights on these characters.
In conclusion, pack tissues.
Rating for “The Fault in Our Stars:” A+ I really cannot offer any criticism of this film.
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“The Fault in Our Stars” is playing all across Columbus, including at Gateway and Arena Grand. For showtimes, click here.