The Fault in Our Stars, 2014
Directed by Josh Boone
Staring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Nat Wolff, and Willem Dafoe.
Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 17-year-old girl with cancer, meets Augustus waters, an 18-year-old cancer survivor. Together they share an affinity for the book “An Imperial Affliction” by recluse author Peter van Houten and fall in love.
Like many others, I was eagerly awaiting the film adaption of John Green’s novel, The Fault in Our Stars. I loved the book, read it multiple times, and even used two chapters in a presentation I had to do for an oral presentation class in college. I even forced my mother to read the book, that’s how much I loved it. The writing might not have been stellar, but this book did things to my cold, unfeeling heart. So, just as book fans who also happen to be film students do, I also worried about the adaption and just how this story relate onto the big screen.
Luckily, director Josh Boone did not disappoint. I do not have to go on a murderous rampage.
Since this was the biggest source of controversy when production of the film started, we have to start with the casting. While Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus) recently played siblings in Divergent, they make a seamless transition to lovers in The Fault in Our Stars. To be honest, I never saw what people were complaining about – if actors are good enough, you can think of them as separate from the characters they play. Woodley and Elgort are both excellent actors with equally excellent chemistry – they help bring Hazel and Gus’ love story to life and as a viewer my heart bled for them as much as it did in the book. Out of all the actors, though, my personal favorite had to be Nat Wolff – who played Augustus’ blind best friend, Isaac. Every time he was on screen my attention immediately shifted over to him. The scene portraying “the night of the broken trophies” had me giggling non-stop. If the rumors are true that he will be playing the main character in the upcoming adaptation of Green’s Paper Towns, I know exactly what book I will be picking up next.
Storywise, The Fault In Our Stars is a pretty great adaption for a story that was already pretty cheesy to begin with. Yes, it’s a tragic love story about cancer aimed at tweenagers, and that’s a-okay. It’s got layers. Unfortunately some of those layers had to be peeled away to make it more palatable to a wide audience, but the movie barely suffers from it. We’re given a story we have seen many times with elements (two main characters with cancer) that we haven’t seen before. Going in, I knew what plot elements they were going to remove, but the story doesn’t suffer from it and makes the story a lot more approachable for those that haven’t read the book.
…you should read the book though, really. Remember though, consider who the story is aimed towards and don’t expect the next great American novel.
Granted, I did have some some gripes about the translation between adaptations. We didn’t see much of Augustus’ parents, including a scene right before the trip to Amsterdam that I personally felt was extremely important to the story. We also don’t see a lot of fallout from Augustus’ side of the story which is a bit of a travesty. Also the movie failed to include my favorite quote – “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” A change I did enjoy, though, was Willam Dafoe’s portrayal of Peter van Houten, a recluse novelist. This version is a lot more sympathetic than the character in Green’s novel and it’s more than welcome in my book.
(On another note, my inner film student was jumping for joy at the scene in Oranjee. Beautifully shot. I would see it again just to coo over that scene. I wish the lighting in my productions could be that amazing.)
To me, The Fault in Our Stars can be seen both as an adaption and a separate entity from it’s source material. You can go without reading the novel and still enjoy the story, or you can pick up the book and have a little extra to go with it. Years from now, I hope both can be considered classics. If you’re going to see any movie in the coming weeks – this is the one you should check out.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★★★★ / Movie ★★★★★