The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Fault In Our Stars | Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

 

The Fault In Our Stars

Talented young actress Shailene Woodley and up and comer Ansel Elgort, (who played her brother in Divergent) play cancer stricken teens who fall hopelessly in love in screenwriters Scott Nuestadter and Michael C. Weber's (who adapted another teen romance, The Spectacular Now, that also starred Woodley) film adaptation of Josh Green's best selling young adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars.

Be prepared to have hankies handy because tears will be flowing.

Directed by Josh Boone, The Fault In Our Stars centers on 17 year old Indiana teen Hazel Claire Lancaster (Woodley) whose thyroid cancer has spread to her lungs. Unable to breathe on her own, she is forced to drag around an oxygen tank wherever she goes. As anyone would be in her shoes, Hazel is depressed and mentally and physically worn out by all she's had to undergo since being diagnosed at age 8.  In order to make her parents happy, she reluctantly agrees to attend a support group at her local church.  That's where she meets 18 year old Augustus (Gus for short) Waters (Elgort) a former jock, that has lost one of his legs to cancer but, nevertheless, exudes confidence and has an upbeat attitude.

It's love at first sight for Gus, but Hazel tries to keep her distance since she feels like a ticking time bomb. That doesn't stop Gus from fervently pursuing her and showering her with compliments.  Unable to resist the charming, smart young man, a friendship begins to develop between the two that eventually blossoms into a full fledged romance, until, tragically, fate intervenes.  In other words, living happily ever after simply isn't in the cards for these two star crossed young lovers.

The supporting cast includes an effective Laura Dern, as Hazel's caring, compassionate parent who would do anything for her one and only daughter.  Sam Trammell (TV's True Blood) playing Hazel's father, doesn't get much screen time but has one very poignant scene where he is alone with his daughter and is able expresses his love for her in a way that she can now, more than ever, relate to.

Willem Dafoe is well cast as Dutch writer Peter Van Houten, whose book, “An Imperial Affliction,” about a dying young girl, has long been an inspiration to Hazel. A dream to meet him in person is realized when, against doctors' orders, she, Gus, and her mother in tow, travel to Amsterdam. The day after enjoying a romantic dinner and stroll through the city, Gus and Hazel visit with the author, who, to put it mildly, doesn't live up to their expectations.  As it turns out, he is a bitter, nasty, angry man.

More surprisingly, during a visit to Anne Frank's house, Hazel has a epiphany from the long gone 15 year old Holocaust victim about the importance of enjoying every moment and finding happiness where you can as well as the theme of how you don’t have to live a long life to have a powerful and meaningful one.

The only character I have a major problem with is Isaac (played by Nat Wolff), Gus's requisite best friend who is supposed to add “comic relief” as a fellow cancer victim whose disease robs him of his sight.  There is absolutely nothing funny about blindness and I was uncomfortable with the way his tragic condition is trivialized.

The Fault of Our Stars is not a perfect film.  References to Jesus, the notion that “pain demands to be felt”, could have been left out and not detracted from the underlying message. What stands out and the major reason to see this predictable, but emotionally riveting drama, is the sensitive, wonderful performance by Woodley, a remarkable actress, whose expressive face speaks volumes. Not once does she deliver a false note. Elgort, also makes a strong impression in his first starring role. No doubt, teenage girls in the audience will take a “shine” to the appealing young actor.

Although, heartbreaking, The Fault in Our Stars, is an extremely moving love story that is guaranteed to make an impact on audiences young and old.  While “the fault in our stars” is that they shine bright but inevitably will die out and cease to exist, the uplifting message is, indeed, full of life.

 

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