Genre – Drama/Romance
Director – Josh Boone
Cast – Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolf
Alluring element – Based on the New York Times Best Selling novel by award winning author and noted nerd, John Green.
I was lucky enough to see an advance screen of The Fault in Our Stars last week and I am still dizzy from the emotions it surfaced for me. I’ll admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to this movie. The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite book and it means a great deal to me, personally. Author John Green shares a YouTube Channel with his brother Hank called “The Vlogbrothers,” of which I am a massive fan. Their fans are called Nerdfighters (fighting for nerds, not against them) and they are some of the most passionate, intelligent, caring people you will ever meet. While writing the novel, John documented his progress as well as read the first two chapters to his fans via Livestream before the book was even published. The Nerdfighters were even able to catch a mistake in the book before it was printed. So when I say I’ve been with this story since the beginning, I mean the very beginning. Seeing this story finally hit the big screen feels like a triumph.
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is an atypical teenager living with cancer, oxygen tank trailing forever behind her. While medication and frequent doctors visits have extended her life quite a bit, she is very much aware that she is dying. After being deemed depressed by both her mother and doctor, Hazel begins attending a cancer support group. It is here that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a charismatic, sly, metaphoric loving cancer survivor determined to make his mark on the world. Together they find “a forever within the numbered days,” a love that transcends their illness, and an adventure that makes them both feel infinitely alive whilst on the border of death.
Lovers of the novel will be extremely satisfied with the adaptation. Countless scenes have dialogue directly pulled from the book. The casting could not be more perfect. I personally can not see anyone but Shailene Woodley playing Hazel and Ansel Elgort makes the perfect Augustus. While the movie was actually shot in Pittsburgh, set designers and cinematographers were able to make it feel very much like Indiana, scouring out every flat piece of land they could find and recreating the sculpture “Funky Bones”with such detail that the original curator Sarah Green couldn’t tell the difference. Watching the film felt like reading the book all over again. The few scenes they cut I didn’t even notice until later watching an interview with John Green. It is clear that the people behind the movie cared for the book just as much as it’s diehard fans.
While Augustus may be “on a roller coaster than only goes up,” this film takes its audience for an emotionally diverse ride, so much so that DFTBA.com sells a “TFIOS Preparedness Kit” – tissues included. Witty dialogue and ingenious timing create a laughable atmosphere throughout the movie, allowing the audience to believe everything is going to be okay just long enough that when things take a turn for the worse, it cuts all the deeper. However, despite how much the movie made me cry, I still wouldn’t classify it as a sad movie. The Fault in Our Stars is just as much about life as it is about sickness and death. The characters are joyful through much of the film. They are falling in love with each other and with life, despite how little time they have left. In fact, it may because of their mortality that they are able to do this so freely. One thing should be made clear; this is not a cancer story. Yes, it’s a love story about two kids with cancer. Yes, Hazel’s oxygen tank and Augustus’prosthetic leg makes it abundantly clear they’re ill. Still, The Fault in Our Stars is a story about people faced with their own mortality and the mortality of their loved ones. It’s about laying things clean and dry on the table to stop beating around the bush. It’s about two young adults realizing that this life is all they are going to get and that that’s just fine. Their lives are not perfect, in fact they’re far from, but they are still lives that demands to be lived to their fullest. This is a story about overcoming pain and finding joy despite it. This is not a cancer story.
The soundtrack alone could warrant a review. Ranging from big names like Ed Sheeran and Birdy to lesser known, but just as talented artists such as Afasi and Filthy, the album’s mood fluctuates similarly to the film but still manages to be cohesive. “Bomfelleralla,” a personal favorite of mine, may be the only song that doesn’t seem to quite fit until you see the film. It’s plucked directly out of a scene where Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) plays the song for Hazel and Augustus.
The Fault in Our Stars is an important story because it shows that cancer patients are not their illness and have lives outside it. It shows sickness in a light we rarely get to see. So often we look at someone with a cannula and all we see is their sickness. We visualize them as “the other”when they are very much just like us. The Fault in Our Stars breaks down this “otherness”with a story about two lovers who are like every other couple. They just happen to have cancer.
The film comes out June 6th but if you hurry, you can see it early. Theaters all over the US are hosting “The Night Before the Stars”where audiences can see the film the day before it comes out as well as a following livestream including cast members Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff (who plays Issac) , Author John Green, Director Josh Boone, Producer Wyck Godfrey, and performances from Birdy and Nat and Alex Wolff. Attendees will also receive a commemorative charm bracelet and exclusive movie poster. Tickets are $25 and going fast.
Even if you haven’t read the book (though I sincerely recommend you do) The Fault in Our Stars is a film you will find yourself thinking about long after the credits roll. From the brilliant cast to the heart wrenching plot, this film is destined to be a Summer hit.