The Fault In Our Stars Review
Directed by Josh Boone and based on the best-selling novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars stands out not just as an adaptation done right but a dramatic and heartfelt film in its own right. Starring Shailene Woodley (Divergent) as Hazel and Ansel Elgort (Divergent) as Gus, the film’s plot revolves around two teenagers who fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group and tackles themes such as life, death and love. Other characters include Laura Dern and Sam Trammell as Hazel’s parents and Willem Defoe as the apathetic Van Houten.
Having not read this novel, I went into watching this film knowing very little about the characters or plot other than a brief synopsis. Perhaps the most notable point about this film is that it remains entertaining and interesting throughout. Given a brief description of this film you may be forgiven for assuming this is simply a deeply dramatic and presumably serious movie. And it is. But what The Fault in Our Stars does well is provide a mix of humour and tragedy but ultimately a heartfelt story. Much of the humour comes from Gus’s troubled friend Isaac played by Nat Wolff as he struggles with a break-up however, just as much levity can be found in the keen wit and the charm of the two lead characters. Hazel and Gus are given plenty of material, and enough of it is light-hearted and amusing to keep audiences from losing interest in the plot.
Hazel and Gus are given their due in this film thanks to fantastic acting by Woodley and Elgort respectively. Hazel is hopeful, witty and clever without ever becoming brazen while Gus is confident and charismatic without descending into brashness and overconfidence. When real dramatic material is used in the film, both actors handle it commendably making the at times painful journey of these characters believable to an audience. Other noteworthy performances include Hazel’s parents played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell who with relatively few scenes manage to present their concern, protection and love for their daughter in an authentic way. Willem Defoe also stands out as Van Houten, the author Hazel dreams about meeting. Ultimately this is Hazel’s story though, with the plot narrated by her at various stages in the film. This works well as a plot device as it keeps the story moving and lets the audience know what Hazel is thinking.
The Fault in Our Stars can at times lean towards being overly dramatic almost to the point of melodrama. At certain points in the film I found myself wondering why we needed reminding that these characters were struggling in their relationship and their day-to-day lives when this point was already well established early on and indeed throughout the film. Nevertheless, this is a small price to pay for a film that is well-paced and scripted in a sensible and entertaining manner. At the core of The Fault in Our Stars though is a good story that is equal parts tragic, heartfelt and life-affirming and the film does a good job of translating this story to the big screen.
While it’s not a summer blockbuster or the most light-hearted film you can see this year, The Fault in Our Stars succeeds thanks to an emotional and heart-wrenching script and comedic moments that keep the film from becoming too difficult to watch. Thanks to a talented cast including a fantastic performance from Shailene Woodley and boasting a story worth being told The Fault in Our Stars is well worth a watch.