John Green’s young-adult novel The Fault in Our Stars, is a story about love, about death and about finding someone to share the journey of life with, no matter what it may throw in your path. Thankfully, director Josh Boone’s adaptation takes the bests bits of the book and delivers a beautifully crafted and emotional story as we follow a young girl, Hazel, on her struggle with terminal illness.
Hazel has survived stage four cancer that has spread to her lungs. But for her, survival doesn’t seem like much of a miracle. Her chances of living beyond her teens are dim and yet she has a burning desire to make something of her short life. It is her doggedness to find something to hope for, some meaning to her life that carries the movie.
Boone’s smartest decision involves the casting of Shailene Woodley, who wins you over right away. Her performance is dazzling, from the opening group-therapy scenes where you watch her register beguiled astonishment at the attention of handsome stranger Augustus (Elgort), and all the way through as her character undergoes a transformation thanks to the bond they end up sharing together. Woodley, in a rare feat of anti-vanity, plays her character behind a plastic tube throughout.
Elgort, as Gus, has fewer notes to play, but his bluff charm never comes off as forced, and his chemistry with Woodley is both natural and note perfect. He gets his character’s old-fashioned gallantry and the banter between Gus and Hazel is as effortless and easy as it gets when it comes to onscreen couples.
At certain points during the course of the film the dark subject matter is touched upon but the movie never tackles it head on, instead settling for slick montage and song selections from the star-studded soundtrack, and because of this there are times the movie starts to feel like the weepy, tug-at-the-heartstrings tale it wants to transcend. Thankfully it is elevated to something more, something genuinely great, by the wonderful support cast and by the marvelous chemistry between its leads.
The book and the movie are different experiences, but The Fault In Our Stars movie gets the essential things right. By grounding the warmth and emotion of the central relationship with some of the more serious consequences to being diagnosed with a terminal illness, the filmmakers have made a movie that might bring some comfort to those whose lives have been crashed by this very real affliction.
Resolved to reduce its viewers to tears, The Fault in Our Stars has thankfully been made with enough sincerity, wit and heart to earn them.
(Images courtesy Collider, IMDb, Empire)