Josh Boone‘s The Fault in Our Stars is the latest successful young adult novel transferred over to the big screen. The Fault in Our Stars strikes directly at the heart in a unique way that highlights the film’s many up-and-down moments, while also shedding such a positive and optimistic light on such a dark and depressing situation. Boone’s direction is mostly tight and only loosens up towards the film’s sloppy ending, while stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort carry the film with their on-screen chemistry that’s full of charm, life and lightning-like energy.
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is your typical teenage girl. She’s kind of quiet and spends most of her time alone, reading books and watching TV. She also have a rare form of cancer that’s slowly sucking the life out of her lungs, which causes her to have a somewhat grim outlook on life, no thanks to her over-worrying parents that are constantly forcing her to attend a cancer support group.
Other than that, she’s a mostly normal teenage girl just trying to get through life’s daily struggles, only with an extreme amount of added stress, thanks to her cancer. But that gets slightly better when she meets Gus (Ansel Elgort), a recovering cancer patient with an incredibly positive outlook on life.
Gus is the type of guy that wants to be remembered, which means that he speaks his mind freely and does whatever he wants without any repercussions. Hazel and Gus instantly attract as both are looking for someone to fill that void of space that comes with being labeled “that kid with cancer”.
Gus sees a bright and intelligent girl in Hazel and Hazel sees a wild and fun, yet caring and compassionate man in Gus and together the two make for great best friends. Both want more, but are afraid that their illnesses may get in the way of happiness, which makes them both ticking time bombs just waiting to explode.
The Fault in Our Stars is a touching and intimate look at the lives of those with cancer and how they choose to live them and interact with those around them, knowing just how much precious time they have left and how important it is to live your life and make every single second count. Director Josh Boone adapts the wildly popular young adult novel with a direction that mirrors most of today’s young romances, but with a unique sense of urgency and an incredible amount of understanding towards the film’s touchy subject matter.
The Fault in Our Stars lays out its motives early on, describing itself as not another lovely happy ending type film, while also occasionally slipping into that very category, but Boone does this with honest intentions and intentions that highlight the film’s stronger moments, while downplaying its weaker points.
The film works great whenever it tries mixing emotions at a rapid pace. Stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort share a tremendous amount of on-screen chemistry, which allows for Boone and the writers to bounce back and forth between serious and heavy scenes, followed by ones that are much more light and fluffy. The film spends more time being serious, but never enough to be considered a complete downer and instead something that goes through the up and down cycles of cancer very well, with an honest sense of understanding just how horrible and tough it can be, while also showing how much it can bring people together in ways that one might not think of traditionally.
It shows Hazel’s every day struggles and how something as simple as climbing up stairs can be difficult and stressful and life-threatening and yet it still shows how strong and courageous she is, no matter how badly her luck ends up being.
There’s also an interesting love story to be discovered. One that definitely plays out like most would imagine, showing off the two’s weird connections and constant back-and-forth witty banter, but also a love story that uniquely highlights the everyday struggles of cancer and how it can form such strong relationships and build on already strong people. Again, Boone’s direction focuses on all of the right moments, while only wasting time on the wrong ones towards the end.
The Fault in Our Stars mostly works because of Shailene Woodley and co-star Ansel Elgort. Together, the two create, develop and see through two remarkably interesting characters that are different enough to follow, but not too out there just for the sake of it. Woodley especially leaves a lasting impression, giving Hazel a completely different layer and outlook on life that isn’t exactly happy-go-lucky, but still a view that most would stray away from when telling such a story.
The film does suffer from a weak third act that bogs things down and makes brief moments feel like a lifetime and while this does hurt the lasting impression left, it also gives the film enough closure and wrap up to satisfy every single audience member. I’ve been told that the film focuses on the most important parts of the book, while leaving out the nonsense and I’ve also been told that the pacing is greatly improved upon too, but I haven’t personally read the book, so I can’t comment on just how faithful the adaptation really is.
The Fault of Our Stars is far from memorable in terms of Shailene Woodley performances and overall lasting impact in terms of romance films, but it’s still a solid film that tells the tale of romance through a different lens. Woodley and Elgort do almost all of the heavy lifting, while director Josh Boone does an alright job adapting a popular novel without pissing off too many fans. The ending of the film feels weaker than it should and definitely lingers for far too long, but it doesn’t completely ruin everything before it.
The Fault in Our Stars – 7/10