Paige Solomon ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” And it sure was in The Fault In Our Stars. Bring a box of tissues and a friend’s/significant other’s shoulder to cry on when you head to the theater to see the movie adaptation of the highly acclaimed young adult novel.
Based on the book by John Green, The Fault In Our Stars follows two witty, charming teenagers, Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). Despite living with cancer and being accompanied by an oxygen tank wherever she goes, Hazel wants to live a typical teenager’s life; but after meeting Gus at Support Group, her journey turns out to be anything but ordinary. Hazel and Gus’ story is an extraordinary one of love, loss, and life.
Shailene Woodley’s performance as Hazel is effortlessly realistic. She translates the character straight from the pages of the book and into real life. The viewer is able to experience every emotion with her throughout the story. Also, her chemistry with Ansel Elgort is beautiful and their blossoming relationship is believable. Ansel is extremely charismatic in his first big leading role, and his smirk will melt your heart. Together, they light up the screen and make the audience laugh with them, cry with them, and fall in love with what feels like a very real relationship.
Willem Dafoe stars alongside Shailene and Ansel as the arrogant, drunk, Peter Van Houten. Van Houten wrote Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, which concludes mid-sentence. As a result, Gus and Hazel travel to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten and get some answers as to what happens to the characters in the novel. To their surprise, Van Houten is a rude alcoholic who wants nothing to do with them. Dafoe captures Van Houten’s essence almost perfectly. His performance makes you hate Van Houten, but also feel slightly bad for him. Dafoe was a great casting choice.
While Shailene, Ansel, and Willem’s performances were the highlights of the film, there were disappointments elsewhere. Isaac (Nat Wolff) is Gus’ friend who attends support group with Hazel. When Isaac’s girlfriend, Monica, breaks up with him after finding out he is going blind, Hazel, Gus, and Isaac develop a strong friendship that involves video games, breaking trophies, and egging Monica’s car. While the character was humorous in the book, he falls flat in the movie. Despite Wolff’s best efforts, the only time he comes through as having any genuine emotion is during the scene in Gus’ room after Monica breaks up with him. Otherwise, Wolff’s performance was lackluster and dull. There wasn’t much emotion in his voice and in what he was saying, making it hard to believe he was Isaac.
While the movie was beautifully done in certain ways, like the flashbacks of young Hazel in the hospital as present day Hazel narrates what is happening in the scene, the movie looks like a book would read. Some of the transitional periods of the movie are choppy, not smooth. However, that is not distracting enough to detract from the movie as a whole.
One thing the book succeeded in that the movie lacks is the strong development of Hazel and Gus’ relationship. At just over two hours, the beginning of the film does a poor job of developing their relationship enough so that by the time they get to Amsterdam, their characters and their relationship has evolved enough for them to be in love. In the beginning, the development of their relationship moves too fast, and then towards the end of the movie it slows down enough for them to actually develop a real kind of love. Rather than Hazel and Gus falling in love “slowly and then all at once,” the opposite happened.
The Fault In Our Stars is a must-see summer movie. Staying pretty true to the book, fans of the novel will love it. Those unfamiliar with John Green should enjoy the film as well. This is a beautiful film that so many young girls and boys will relate to. It is a great, unique take on the “forbidden” love story of two star-crossed lovers that is so well-known because of Romeo and Juliet. With a few very small flaws, it is hard to find many faults in these stars.
Overall Grade: A
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