Strong performances elevate a highly melodramatic, yet heartfelt story of young love in bloom during the terminal stages of life in The Fault in Our Stars.
The film begins with an apology that this is not like those other generic “I’ve got cancer” weepies (My Sister’s Keeper, etc). It is an apology of half-truths. Based on the bestselling novel by John Green and directed by Josh Boone, The Fault in Our Stars still has that Hallmark sheen known to these kinds of movies, that tend to keep the audience at arms-length.
Thankfully it also has the prolific, magnetic Shailene Woodley. She stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, a terminally ill cancer sufferer with an oxygen tank as constant company and a cynical, no BS attitude towards life.
That changes when she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor with a shiny outlook on life. As played by Ansel Elgont (who also portrayed Woodley’s brother in the sci-fi thriller Divergent) at times he can be overwhelming to the point of being unbearable, that smug confidence and beaming smile slightly creepy at first, yet settles when next to Woodley’s more grounded portrayal as Hazel.
A romance develops between the two, but at a much slower pace than expected, with a strong foundation created between the pair that strengthens the inevitable smooches and declarations of love to follow.
That both Hazel and Augustus are established as individuals first with conflicting philosophies and attitudes is a strong point in this adaptation written by Scott Nuestadter and Michael C. Weber (who also adapted the stronger teen love story The Spectacular Now, which also starred Woodley).
It is Woodley’s performance that stands out the most. This is an impressive young actor who has conviction in her vast emotional range, and also has that rare ability to elevate material that would otherwise lay dormant.
Good to is Laura Dern as Hazel’s mother, whose silent suffering at her daughter’s fragile mortality is masked by a positive disposition that’s heartbreakingly portrayed.
Of course being the teen melodrama that it is many moments do irritate, mostly revolved around Augustus’s theatrical personality and that sickly sweet sheen that robs the film of some much needed grittiness in regards to cancer and its messy, fatal results.
Yet while The Fault in Our Stars can be overbearingly schlocky at times, it is also an emotionally heartfelt film, especially in regards to the central romance that is sure to make the target audience swoon.
BY HARSHVARDHAN SINGH.