Being a huge John Green fan, I bought his novel, The Fault in Our Stars, when it released in early 2012. Jump ahead two years, and I was shocked to see that the book was not only becoming a film, but that it had already been shot, and was getting a summer release. The Fault in Our Stars made it onto my Summer Preview list because I really enjoyed the book, and the trailers looked very promising.
Hazel Grace is a 17-year-old cancer survivor. She finished school at home, and has to have an oxygen tank on at all times due to damage done to her lungs from having thyroid cancer. Her parents make her attend a cancer support group for young adults where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor. After a brief chat about their favorite books, the duo starts on a journey to meet their favorite author.
The premise is set up nicely, and what made the novel so good was that the characters were very unique and fun. The serious tone of the novel, and now the film, are handled very well. I am also happy to report that the young cast does a fantastic job of bringing these two characters to life.
Shailene Woodley has had a great ride so far this year. She ended her TV show The Secret Life of an American Teenager, and starred in the first Divergent film, which faired rather well at the box office and turned out better than I thought it would be. She also played Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spiderman 2, but had her scenes deleted for plot reasons. She’s great in Our Stars as Hazel Grace, and I honestly didn’t even recognize her until I looked it up.
In a strange twist of fate, Ansel Elgort (playing Augustus Waters) also played in Divergent, and I didn’t recognize him in this role either. Both might be type-casted to young adult film adaptations, but they have the talent to move beyond it, and this is a great film for that because their characters are some of the few with actual depth to them.
The Fault in Our Stars has a very brisk two-hour runtime, and it just flies by. Not a minute is wasted as we meet and fall in love with these characters. Having read the novel, this made the final hour of the film a bit rough for me. To say it choked me up would be an understatement. I saw this film opening day, and have sat on this review for a whole week because I didn’t want to address what it did to me. I was recently talking with a friend on the phone, explaining what happens, and had to stop before I got too far because all of the same emotion I felt in the theatre came rushing back.
The romantic-comedy genre is a tough one to tackle, and it’s either hit or miss. Add in the teen angst and you have a sure-fire flop. The Fault in Our Stars proves that not only can a book adaptation be true to its source, but it can also break the genre staples that typically hold such a film back. Both Hazel and Augustus are likable characters for any person going to view the film, and it’s more about their journey together than anything else. The Fault in Our Stars is one of my favorites of the year, and it surpassed any and all expectations I had going into it. It is a must-see film.