Fault in Our Stars, The (2014)

Review #1,046

Director:  Josh Boone
Cast:  Shailene WoodleyAnsel ElgortNat Wolff 
Plot:  Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey.  Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

Genre:  Drama / Romance
Awards:  -
Runtime:  125min
Rating:  PG13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language.

“What's your story?”

It's fair to say that you would probably shed a tear or two by the end of this movie.  Some of you might even cry.  Those familiar with the best-selling novel by John Green that this romance-drama is based on would know what's coming. 

The rest like myself who simply (just) watch movies would appreciate a meaningful story about an unlikely romance between a girl who carries her own oxygen tank because of her collapsed lung, and a guy who has had his leg amputated due to cancer. 

With a tagline that says  'a sick love story', you can be pretty sure that the film’s treatment is far from ordinary.  The Fault in Our Stars takes a tragicomic view of romance, with a key message to take away – it is the moments shared with someone you love deeply that count the most.  In our finite existence, it is such moments that give intimate (and infinite) meaning to our relationships.

I would like to draw comparisons to Jonathan Levine’s acclaimed bromance-comedy 50/50 (2011) starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.  It is an outstanding film that treats cancer diagnosis with positive humour, but never lightly. 

It draws comfort and warmth, and like The Fault in Our Stars, it affirms our belief that we can become immortal through human connection.  In other words, death is simply a fleeting moment; it comes and then it is gone forever.  It is the inevitable force that formally transforms experience into memory.

Directed by Josh Boone, The Fault in Our Stars explores such issues in a teen-friendly way, but without compromising on its witticisms.  Shailene Woodley, who first made headway in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (2011), and recently secured her first young-adult franchise with the 'Divergent' series, gives a honest performance that is at once endearing and emotional.

The main problem with The Fault in Our Stars, however, is that it may feel unnecessarily draggy.  The movie takes its time to flesh out the characters, which is always a point of positive note, but it is not well-paced. 

The screenplay is not tight enough, and there's enough redundancy to make it feel overdrawn, particularly the third act.  Boone's film takes longer than it should, though those who are already emotionally invested in the picture probably won't feel a thing, except tears.

Verdict:  This tearjerker feels overdrawn, but the emotions are real with a honest performance by the talented Shailene Woodley. 


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