Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
17 year old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), after coming to terms with the fact that the cancer that has ravaged her lungs is eventually going to kill her, has settled into a rhythmic malaise where she isolates herself and reads the same book over and over. Fearing that she is dangerously depressed, her parents force her to start attending a cancer support group for teens where she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). Gus survived a tumor that took his leg, but is a preternaturally upbeat and charming young man who immediately zeroes in on Hazel. His pursuit of Hazel draws her outside of the walls she has built around herself and forces her to embrace the fact that there is still life left for her to live. But the deeper they fall for each other, the more Hazel worries that the fact that she carries an expiration date will end up devastating Gus. She has to decide whether or not to keep him at arms length or embrace the happiness they can have in the limited time they are allowed.
I have not read this book so keep in mind that the only frame of reference I have of The Fault in Our Stars is what I saw on the screen. This is a beautifully told story full of impactful, emotional performances that was rendered unintentionally hilarious by the fact that I saw it in a theatre full of 13 year old girls who loudly oohed, aahed and wooed at every turn and then, in unison, cried their eyes out at the end. Woodley and Elgort are wonderful in the film and they are buoyed up by every single other actor in the cast. Elgort’sindefatigable charisma is a real revelation after finding him oddly unremarkable in Divergent. The fact that Woodley is standing toe-to-toe with Jennifer Lawrence in the battle to be the defining young actress of this generation is no secret and she delivers another essentially flawless performance.
The only thing that kept me from being as fully invested in the love story as the film wanted me to be was, because of time constraints, it seemed like the relationship was unbalanced. You only get to see Gus’ efforts and his grand gestures towards Hazel, while her reciprocation is almost non-existent. You can clearly see why Hazel loses herself to Gus, but it is more difficult to put yourself in Gus’ shoes and see why he is so infatuated with Hazel. I am told that this isn’t an issue in the book, so I am most likely going to read it. For those who already have, I think the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars will give you what you want. A-
The Fault in Our Stars was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I had high expectations for the movie. I think I was just as excited as the 13-year-old girls in the theater, I am just better at controlling my emotions. The hope with any book to movie adaptation is that the film makers get the tone of the book correct--and director Josh Boone does. The flirtatious and playful banter between Gus and Hazel, the camaraderie with Isaac, and the overwhelming emotion that I was looking for were all there. Yes, Scott is correct that the film feels unbalanced. I too wished that there was even more of the development of the relationship between Hazel and Gus. This was one of the few movies that I could have used an extra 10-15 minutes of story/character development.
I would've preferred to have seen the movie in an empty theater so that I could have allowed myself the full emotional release I was looking for. But, like Scott I couldn't help but laugh at the over-the-top reactions of our fellow audience members. Even with their dramatic reactions, the movie was still powerful and tender. For those thinking that you will be depressed from watching this movie, go and see it. The movie is sad--but it also expresses the hopefulness of a life full of love. If nothing else else, this movie showcases the glorious skills of Woodley and Elgot. A-