The Fault in Our Stars
John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars is astonishing. Two teenagers suffering from cancer fall in love. It is that simple. But the story of Hazel and Gus has a profound depth, charm and sense of humour that is difficult to dislike. Naturally, then, a film adaptation causes apprehension for fans of the book – but this film will not disappoint. It is faithful in content and spirit, and stirring performances from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort bring Hazel and Gus vividly to life.
Meeting at a cancer support group, the two teens are wary of starting a relationship, knowing that their time is limited. But they fall in love “the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once.” Hazel and Gus rail against sentimentality, against cliché, but accidentally become the perfect teen love story themselves. Laura Dern, is brilliantly moving as Hazel’s mum: she is always smiling, remaining cheerful, but she sprints into Hazel’s room at a moment’s notice if she thinks something is wrong and in sadder moments shows unimaginable anguish.
The film lurches from comedy to tragedy in gut-wrenching leaps, and many moments are clearly hoping to boost sales of Kleenex, but it doesn’t seem cynical somehow. It is glossy, certainly, and the characters have a sheen of Hollywood prettiness, but it never forgets that terminal illness is a grim business – not only emotionally, but logistically too. The film does not forget about hospitals, syringes, prosthetics, vomit, radiotherapy masks, baldness. Its biggest strength comes from its faithfulness to a remarkable book. Theirs is a simple teen love story – the simplest in fact – but their illness demands our sympathy. They have cancer and they deal with it in the way that we all hope we would.
How can children begin to contemplate oblivion? Hazel is only 16, and Woodley gives her both the wisdom of someone who has suffered and the childlike charm of someone at the beginning of her life, not the end. The Fault in Our Stars, thanks to moving performances and a heart that’s in the right place, does what an adaptation from a novel should: it gives faithful form to the vivid images that have only ever festered in our imaginations. And it does it with goose-pimpling, tear-jerking, heartstring-tugging, carpe diem-inducing beauty.
The Fault in Our Stars is released nationwide on 19th June 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars here: