The Fault In Our Stars
Written by Steven Panzarella(@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Adapted from John Green’s emotionally charged, beautifully written novel, TFIOS as it is called by its passionate fan base, is as great of a book adaptation as we have seen in recent memory. Thanks in large part to its wonderful cast and on point direction by Josh Boone, The Fault in Our Stars will surprise non-book readers and fans alike as an emotional roller coaster that breaks out from the traditional love story mold. Its greatest success is the work from its three stars; especially the Oscar nominated Woodley who gives her best performance to date.
Never have I witnessed the anticipation for such a unique book adaptation then the fervor at the hands of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The YouTube sensation and biggest alley to the YA book movement wrote a story that not only resonated with countless readers of all ages but a story that even brought myself to literal tears in its conclusion. Crying while reading a book is not an act that normally occurs with me so I took notice when the story moved me in such a way. It was good to hear that an important novel for so many was then handed off to be scripted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the men that wrote one of the absolute greatest genre bending love stories in 500 Days of Summer, and last year’s critical darling The Spectacular Now. Their adaptation is as close to the book as reasonably possible for a film that comes in just over 2 hours, the writers managed to leave the emotional resonance of Green’s story of two teenagers Hazel and Gus who fall in love after meeting at their cancer support group. The script is impressive but so is the direction of Josh Boone (Stuck in Love, Lisey’s Story) the second film on his resume, Boone impressively presents the story without exploiting the cancer aspect of the novel. Boone doesn’t muck the love story up, Green’s story is not sappy, and the movie refrains from the used up love story clichés we see yearly in the romantic comedy/drama genre. His direction is wonderful, and the camera captures each and every emotional moment without missing a beat. Boone presents text message that are read plainly in the novel and has them pop on screen for the viewer to read simultaneously as the actors do on screen, it creates a level of sophistication and also allows the viewer to react along with the actors whether it’s a more melancholy moment towards the end or the funnier beginning of the Hazel/Gus relationship.
Most impressively Boone has put a cast together that is high on chemistry and high on emotion. Woodley shines bright as Hazel Grace Lancaster, the movies main character who walks around attached to an oxygen tank. Woodley is beautifully vibrant and incredibly sensitive as the struggling teen, her chemistry with Divergent co-star and Hazel’s Love Interest Ansel Elgort is also top notch. Elgort stars as Augustus “Gus” Waters, a suave and sophisticated cancer survivor, who falls deeply in love with Hazel even as she rebuffs his advances. The film’s most emotionally charged scenes are between Elgort and Woodley especially as they talk about reflect on their mortality and survival. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell are impressive as Hazel’s protective and loving parents, both work emotion into every scene, even as they have normal moments with their daughter smiles are painted to their faces but behind their eyes lie an edge, a consistent state of despair that both feel throughout the film.
Gus and Hazel bond over a book written by Peter Van Houton (Willem Dafoe) a recluse author living in Amsterdam. They are invited to Amsterdam to meet Van Houton who is played to perfection by Willem Dafoe. A drunk who has seemingly lost his mind, Dafoe only appears in a few scenes but it is a memorable performance by the actor as he dances along to Swedish rap music or lays carelessly into both Gus and Hazel over their love for his book. Nat Wolff plays Isaac the best friend of Gus who is about to lose his sight due to his cancer when the film begins. Wolff appeared in Josh Boone’s first film Stuck in Love is also set to star in the Adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns, he is a good addition to the cast as the heartbroken Isaac.
The Fault in Our Stars is refreshing love story and a reminder that some books can be adapted well and still make for worthwhile entertainment at the movies. A well shot and acted book adaptation that stays true to its roots while never overcomplicating it for those who did not read the novel. The film is set to make a staggering $50+ million on its opening weekend and should be considered a massive hit in a genre that does not get as much attention from the thrill seeking audiences that fill theaters up in June. It is a successful book adaptation as well as a totally successful film and one that should be enjoyed by more than just the fans of John Green’s work.