The Fault in Our Stars (12A)
Directed by: Josh Boone
Written by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Based upon the novel by John Green
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell and Willem Dafoe
Runtime: 126 minutes
Faithfully adapted from John Green’s wildly popular bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars tells the love story of the terminally ill Hazel and Augustus. Hazel is seventeen, her experiences thus far have been atypical to that of the regular seventeen year old due to her illness. She spends her days watching reality television and re-reading her favourite novel, spending little time interacting with others apart from family members. That begins to change when she meets the charismatic Augustus Waters at a cancer support group her parents have urged her to attend. Hazel is wary of starting any sort of relationship with Augustus due to her condition and the fact that he has already dealt with cancer before and survived. She doesn’t want to cause any more unnecessary pain to him. She refers to herself as a “grenade” that could go off at any moment and feels that she should keep the casualties she causes to a minimum. This does not seem to bother Augustus, who continues to pursue Hazel and show her how he feels about her. Hazel can’t seem to resist Gus either and the love that blossoms between the two is undeniable.
Those familiar with the source material should be well aware that this story is a roller coaster ride of emotions and should see the film prepared for much the same. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of people at the same screening I was at cried. Although, it’s not a film full of misery and heartbreak, it has some genuinely funny, touching moments and doesn’t seem to take advantage of the themes presented like some previous illness related dramas have. The film almost suffers due to one or two overly cheesy scenes that don’t quite seem to fit within the framework of the rest of the film, but overall the film is a solid sophomore effort from director Josh Boone that works due to a mostly solid script and a hardworking cast.
Laura Dern provides a solid performance as Hazel’s mother. It’s nice to see Dern back in mainstream cinema with a decent role. Here she doesn’t get a beat wrong, perfectly capturing a woman who has to deal with the heartbreak of her child being terminally ill. True Blood’s Sam Trammel also does some fine work here as Hazel’s father, although in a smaller role than Dern. Willem Defoe hasn’t much to do in a supporting role with quite limited screen time. I felt that having such a high profile actor play this role is kind of distracting and unnecessary, although is most of this film’s key demographic going to know who he is? He doesn’t fit the description of the character I had formed in my imagination after reading the novel, I feel an unknown may have been a better option to cast in the role.
The chemistry between the two leads is fantastic. Neither overdoes it in the emotional or more difficult scenes, keeping their performances grounded but still compelling. Shailene Woodley continues to prove her promise that she showed in films such as The Descendents and The Spectacular Now. Ansel Elgort is surprisingly great, having only seen him in last year’s Carrie, in which he made his film debut. Here he gets a greater chance to stretch his acting muscles and pretty much holds his own against the wonderful Woodley. Both are fully believable in their roles and have their respective moments to shine throughout.
Verdict: Powerful, funny and romantic. The Fault in Our Stars lives up to its hype and any wrong steps it takes along the way are more than made up for by a great soundtrack and the chemistry of the two leads, both of whom are fully committed to their roles. Fans of the source material will not be disappointed.
By Alex O’Meara