Film review: The Fault in Our Stars

No fault in these stars.

When author John Green announced that his 2012 young adult bestseller The Fault in Our Stars was being adapted to film reactions were pretty split. Fans worried that like most book-to-film adaptations it would be all wrong and not do justice to the original story. Rest assured the film was marvellously faithful.

The Fault in Our Stars is the most highly anticipated summer romance movie in years with a love story about two teenagers with cancer. The trailer sets the record for the most-liked video in all of YouTube’s history and flocks of thousands gathered at the press tour stops around the United States to meet Green and the lead actors.

It has gathered momentum through livestream events online and the Night Before Our Stars where on the night before the movie premiered the film was simulcast to 500 theatres across North America — the largest simulcast to date — followed by a streaming Q and A with members of the cast and crew and musical performances from the soundtrack.

It is rare to find a movie that stays this loyal to the book it is based on. While there were some changes — scenes were cut and the physical appearances of some characters were altered — that is dwarfed by how many details they got exactly right.

The Fault in Our Stars is told from the perspective of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) an intelligent sarcastic 16-year-old who happens to have terminal thyroid cancer. She is forced by her parents to attend a horrible teen cancer support group in an effort to get her out of the house and it is there that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort).

One-legged Augustus is in remission from osteosarcoma and is nearly as handsome as he is pretentious. He has a love of metaphors and carries around a pack of cigarettes which he never lights.

Hazel and Augustus begin a relationship accepting that they will be each other’s first last and only loves. Hazel sees herself as a grenade because she knows that one day she will die and that her death will hurt the people she cares about. The movie tries to show that a sick person is still a person and that even a short life can be a full life.

The story is realistic and manages to find romance between the two young cancer patients without focusing solely on their disease or falling prey to cheesy clichés. In the last third of the film any silence was penetrated by moviegoers failing miserably to hold back their sobs. It absolutely guts you but in the most beautiful way possible.

While it is true that parts of the movie are heart-wrenching it is also hilarious. The dialogue is full of sharp wit and Elgort and Woodley have such natural chemistry. The script writers (500) Days of Summer ’s Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber brought even more colour to Green’s already thoughtful and poignant characters.

Josh Boone directed and the fact that this was only his second major motion picture must have been daunting with masses of die-hard book fans waiting to criticize and pick apart his every decision. Boone certainly delivered something that fans would have hoped for and that will resonate deeply with audiences.

Whether you have read the book or not — which I highly recommend you do — you will fall in love with The Fault in Our Stars the way you fall asleep. Slowly and then all at once.