The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly faithful to the stellar book, and that’s both good and bad. At times, the stars (the human, not celestial ones) feel like they’re doing a straight re-enactment of the best-selling novel by John Green. The book, and movie tell the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who share an acerbic wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and a battle against cancer. They meet in a support group that they both disdain, and quickly fall in love. They are soul mates on borrowed time.
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is constantly tied to an oxygen tank because, as she quite eloquently puts it, her lungs “suck at being lungs.” And Gus (Ansel Elgort) has a prosthetic leg that he figures can be a real turn-off to the ladies. Together, they are a sweet, entertaining, powerfully-poignant pair determined to live life to the fullest – which includes Gus using his ‘cancer-kid wish’ to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author of her favorite book. She’s desperate for clarification about the ending of the book, which she’s re-read a gazillion times. The trip doesn’t quite go as planned.
The casting is solid but I was surprised to find myself much more taken with Elgort as Gus than with Woodley as Hazel. The same actors played siblings in the recently-released Divergent movie, but as testament to their range, their relationship in Fault doesn’t feel at all weird or creepy.
I’m not a big reader, but I loved the book and constantly recommend it to others, some of whom dismiss it (and the movie) because it “sounds too depressing.” But it’s really not. It’s somewhat sad – tragic even – but not stiflingly depressing. And as cancer movies go, it’s quite entertaining. Yes, it’s a tear-jerker near the end. Those who have read the book know that, and are ready for it. Those who haven’t read the book will likely be moved to a few sniffles, along with a few chuckles. So bring tissues. And carpe diem.