Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

If I weren't such an uptight grape, I would have cried. Despite this being the third week that the movie has been out (and on a weekday!), the whole theater room was filled with teenagers, from families and groups to young couples enjoying their summer vacation.

The range of reactions to the movie went from the girl sitting near me and my husband sobbing quietly during one of the heart-wrenching scenes, and the group of friends in the back row giggling at Gus's blond armpit fuzz.

We sat in the second row. The first row was filled with a bunch of children who were about five to seven years of age. I chuckled at their squirming parents during the kissy scenes, in which a couple of the kids pretended to cover their eyes.

The Fault in Our Stars film is a coming-of-age romance between two older teenagers whose bodies have been touched by cancer at some point in their lives, based on John Green's novel of the same title. The phrase "fault in our stars" reminded me of the "star-crossed lovers" phrase from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, so the entire title is a presagio of its own.

Hazel starts out as a nihilistic teenager who feels that perhaps there is no point in anything, no larger reason or purpose to the world. Sometimes she can come off as a bit morbid in her view of life and the world, but I thought she was just really pragmatic and down-to-earth about it all, even a bit resigned to it...until Gus comes along and befriends her with his optimistic charm.

Unlike Hazel, who has resigned herself to a shorter life with its limits, Gus wants to be great--recognized and remembered by everyone for something--he's not sure of what it should be, but he disagrees with Hazel's view of the world. He thinks there has be a purpose out there, and the thought of dying without being written into the eternal songs of history makes him sad. It's related to the fear of being forgotten after you're dead.

I think that the choice of actors was excellent. Shailene Woodley and a pageboy haircut becomes the chubby-cheeked Hazel Grace. I was surprised by her wide range of emotional expressions, and similarly so by Ansel Elgort's as Gus. The film adds more enjoyable sensory details that Green's storytelling style skimmed over, from the insides of Hazel's mom's car to the Jesus carpet in the cancer support group.

Hazel has such cool, supportive parents. Who gets such parents with a great sense of humor? Rah.

The drama in the movie had less to do with compatibility issues and more to do with coping with the idea of dying and leaving (or not) a legacy for survivors. This take on the coming-of-age romance is quite remarkable in the way that I didn't feel like the story was only out to manipulate my emotions like The Notebook. It asks existential questions about living on despite the fact that you're on a different schedule from fellow humans. It shows how different people cope with loss, features a protagonist with an unconventional teenagehood (homeschooled after a certain year, GED), and reminds us of our own mortality and small infinities. 


  1. I haven't seen the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars.... I've been debating whether I should or not. I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book and loved it, despite the sad topic and crying in parts.

    I mainly have seen the movie version of this book because usually the movies aren't as good as the book and because I don't want to find myself crying all over again in the sad parts should I watch the movie.

    1. Hi Captivated Reader! I understand about deciding between seeing the movie version of a book or not. There are certain things that movies can convey better than books (as well as the other way around), especially if they have that perfect combo of the right music, pacing, acting, and script.

  2. Hey everybody, as far is TFIOS is concerned, I'd say you should read it because, ???Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.???
    and this book is all about it.

    "its the thing about TFIOS, it demands to be read."

    There's no love story like this. IT changed me. :')