After a week of rushing around like a mad person at work, I decided to treat myself and go and watch The Fault in Our Stars with my little sister, who is turning 18 this week (FML I am OLD), since she is the only one who was willing to enter a movie with me that had became known as a tear fest.
You all know by now what happens: Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is living with lung cancer. Her mother and doctor are convinced she is depressed and encourages her to attend a cancer support group at the local church. The group is led by a strange man, but on the persistence of her parents Grace still attends.
A few meetings in, Grace stumbles into Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) at the door of the church. He is immediately taken with her and she is amused by his views on everything. When she notices that he smokes after defeating the cancer that took the bottom half of his one leg, she is disappointed and furious. He quickly assures Grace that he never lights the cigarettes he puts between his teeth, and by doing that he puts something between his teeth that could kill him, taking away its power.
Their friendship develops and Augustus makes no secret that he likes Grace. He even reads her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, written by Peter van Houten, a recluse that now lives in the Netherlands. After reaching the end, he is furious that the book ends in the middle of a sentence, and Grace tells him it is part of the book’s charm. Grace tells him that she herself has written to Van Houten many times without answer, but Augustus finds a way around the red tape by contacting his assistant, and they get some answers. Grace is ecstatic when Van Houten invites them to come to Amsterdam and meet him, but needs to accept the fact that her parents just don’t have the finances for it.
Once again, Augustus saves the day. He uses his wish with the Genies, a company that grants wishes to cancer patients, to book a flight for him, Grace and Grace’s mom to Amsterdam. Grace is very excited, but their trip starts to fall apart when Grace is hospitalised after her lungs fill up with fluids.
A miracle happens – Grace gets better and they are allowed to visit Amsterdam. Grace is still treating Augustus as a friend after she told him that she feels like a grenade, destined to blow the things closest to her apart when she finally detonates.
The meeting with Van Houten (William Dafoe) is a disaster but the two young lovers manage to have a good time nonetheless, and a visit to the Anne Frank house makes Grace realise that even though life is bad, she should still embrace the beauty in it.
After finally entering the relationship that is way overdue, Augustus has news for Hazel – that his cancer has returned in most parts of his body. How will they handle it now that Gus is becoming sick again? Can Hazel cope with the grief that comes along with it? What is Van Houten’s big problem with them?
This movie has been reviewed frequently and excellently over the last few weeks, so I am going to try and write something fresh here. Firstly, I am not a stone cold bitch – sorry, ladies. I cried my eyes out. Well, I did cry twice. A few little tears, but they were there and they were real. I cried when Augustus told Hazel Graze his cancer had returned, and when the inevitable happened and Grace’s reaction to it. Both scenes were filled with grief and executed perfectly by Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley.
I think every actor or actress has a defining character in their career that brings their abilities to light in the best possible way. Ansel Elgort met his character in Augustus Waters. I couldn’t have found a better actor for him if I had looked at every single seventeen year old boy on the planet (which would have been weird). He did that charming confident cancer survivor perfectly and was full of attitude and cocky as hell. There is only one scene that shows a chink in his confidence, and it was so beautiful and sad and I think that few moments were so perfectly done my soul finally shattered.
Hazel Grace Lancaster became one of my favourite heroines after reading the book. She is sure of her fate and although not altogether at peace with it, she accepts that it is going to happen and there isn’t much she can do about it. Her courage, determination and intelligence set her in a class of her own and her whole persona is something young girls desperately need today in a world full of Kardashians. Shailene Woodley was perfectly cast here as well. The chemistry between her and Elgort is very strong and they made a realistic, plausible couple. Woodley seems to get her character perfectly and what Hazel is made up of, and portrayed the scenes in the book with the correct amount of humour, anger and grief.
The movie also achieved the same as the book – it made me so angry for a variety of reasons. I was angry because two teenagers who are in love should NOT have to deal with telling each other that their deaths are inevitable. Peter van Houten is another reason – I get his animosity towards Hazel and Augustus, but you have to be a truly low human being to treat a girl hooked on an oxygen tank like that.
My only (very slight) issues with TFiOS was that they completely underutilised Isaac (NatWolff), who was charming, fun and very well cast. I thought that they should have introduced Hazel’s friend who she meets at the mall once or twice in the book (I can honestly not remember her name or the frequency of her presence), as it would have showed the little sad bit of a social life that Grace did have.
A huge round of applause should to the director of TFiOS because this movie was not written to be a tear fest. There is plenty of outrageously grief stricken moments, but this wasn’t Nicholas Sparks that deliberately tried to make you cry every damn five seconds.
Recommendation: You should definitely see this at least once.