Requested Review; ‘The Fault In Our Stars’
If you want the short version, go watch the Honest Trailer.
Hazel has cancer. And that sucks, a lot. The fact that her parents sign her up for a support group doesn’t exactly make her feel any better, until it leads to her hitting it off with the most perfect boy known to man, Augustus. The two bond instantly, and the entire movie is basically watching them A) deal with their illness’ together, and B) be adorable.
Seriously, there’s not much plot here to spoil. It’s essentially just a slice of life movie, with little to nothing in the way of external conflict. This is actually a great thing as it means there’s no shallow attempts at drama for the sake of itself, and the film doesn’t even pretend to be about anything other than the relationship.
Like with most things I enjoy, my prime draw with this film is it’s sense of humor. The movie lets you know how clever it is essentially from scene one. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like a more natural, more self-aware, and infinitely less pretentious version of the yuppie-ish dialogue that’s permeated teen movies since the 90’s. I can see people disliking it a bit, as there are one or two scenes where it can start naval-gazing from the inside out, but I didn’t see it as a big problem.
This is just a “me” thing, to the point that I don’t even think this counts as a flaw with the movie, but it always bothers me a little bit when a story pulls the “this is how I (insert unfortunate event) happened” card. These ‘Preemptive Tragedies’ as I’ve taken to calling them, have a habit of breaking my enjoyment (even if it is only slightly) with a constant stream of uneasiness. I get that said reaction is what’s intended with the use of that trope, but I can’t help but feel like this movie and many stories like it would have been less tense and distracting had I not spent a majority of the running time waiting for the bad thing to happen. In a way I almost feel like it detracts from the sense of realism/impact present when it finally does hit the fan.
Aside from being funny, the writing does a really good job of making the characters likable. Just when it looks like someone is doing something that I think is unjustified, they skirt it pretty quickly.
Aside from a great performance by Shailene Woodley, the main thing that Ilike about Hazel is how she’s portrayed moved as a realist than a pessimist. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the chemistry between her and Ansel Elgort as Gus has me buying the romance through the whole film. It says a lot for Elgort in particular that Gus feel even remotely like a person who could exist in real life, rather. Seriously, if an ideal specimen exists, it’s probably this kid. Minus the whole, missing a leg thing, but you could barely tell.
Aside from those two, the main characters of note are Hazel’s incredibly cool parents played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammel, Willem Dafoe as the writer of the book that kicks off Gus and Hazel’s relationship, and a at Wolff as third wheel Isaac. While all of the supporting cast is great, I feel like the latter two especially could’ve had a bigger presence.
For as much as I praise the writing, I feel like this movie could’ve easily been less interesting in the hands of a lesser cast.
The directing here is solid, though there’s not really any scenes or elements that stand out visually. Like the cast, there are certain stylistic elements (like the word bubbles that accompany Gus and Hazel’s text conversations)
I like Charlie XCX’s ‘Boom Clap’, but after having been bombarded with it for months with no added context, it felt kind of strange to hear it in this movie.
This is a good movie. There’s not really anyone wrong with it, and if a well-written romance is what you want to see, I wholeheartedly recommend it. With that said, It’s not quite the best thing in the world, and it didn’t quit hit the “Tearjerker” button for me.
Give it a watch if you haven’t already, but try to avoid Hype Backlash.