With the legions of John Green fans, not just in the US but basically all over the world, The Fault In Our Stars has already become one of the summer's biggest hits. Produced on a small budget of just 12 million dollar, its gross is in fact already rivalling Fault-star Shailene Woodley's Divergent that was released earlier this year on an 85 million dollar budget. Before the young adult hit movie lands here in the Netherlands, where an important part of the story is set, within a few days, I went to see an early showing tonight. Because although I haven't read the book, I have been looking forward to see this movie for quite some time now.
Many of you might have read the book or have seen the movie already, but to avoid spoilers stop reading here.
Ever since Fault was released in the US and reviews were popping up everywhere, I have just tried to deny the existance of anything Fault related (except for Shailene Woodley's beautiful gowns and dresses for all of the press moments). As I said before, I never read the book, so I didn't know if Woodley's character Hazel was going to die from her illness or that anyone would die at all. From the trailer I knew that the movie wasn't necessarily going to be "sugarcoated" and from a Teens React To episode on the trailer I understood that although the story deals with a very tragic and serious subject, there was space for a bit of air and humour.
I think it was in one of the first lines however, that you get to know that Hazel, narrator of the story, is terminally ill. She might not die in the movie, but it's clear that she won't really live happily ever after too. Hazel was first diagnosed with cancer when she was thirteen. Now at seventeen, she knows that she'll never get better. Her parents and doctors think she is depressed because of the thought that her death is nearing and want her to go to support-group meetings. She goes, but more to make her parents happy than herself. In one of the group's meetings she meets Augustus, an eighteen-year-old cancer survivor. He has lost a part of one of his legs because of the disease, but for the past fourteen months, he has been cancer-free. Within no time Hazel and Augustus develop a very special friendship, that will soon evolve into a very tragic star-crossed lovers situation.
Hazel Lancaster is beautifully portrayed by Shailene Woodley. Much like in her previous movies The Descendants and especially The Spectacular Now she immediately knows to get your sympathy. The warmth and honesty that goes into the character (which is very honestly written in itself by John Green I would say) makes Hazel come to life. Her emotions, both happy and sad, seem just so real. The happiness when she discovers she cán go to Amsterdam after all, the sadness when she finds out Augustus' cancer has returned (while in Amsterdam on that now infamous bench) and the anger and disappointment when she feels like her love is not enough for Gus, show Woodley's broad range of abilities. In my early Oscar dreams, Shailene Woodley will join Angelina Jolie in the best actress race, even though I know both of them are (sadly) long shots.
Woodley isn't the only good one in the cast though. Not at all. Ansel Elgort, who portrays Augustus Waters, has quite a few powerful moments too. The self-confidence, or cockiness sometimes, of the role is right on point. I'd say though that Elgort's most powerful moment is the mental breakdown of his character on a deserted gas station. In all of the scenes where Gus appears with Hazel, the chemistry between the two actors is clearly visible. To me the two seem perfect for this movie. For now I couldn't really give two names to replace them. As for the supporting cast, I would say Laura Dern as Hazel's mother is a true standout, but in fact all of them are just fine within their roles.
Being from the Netherlands and knowing Amsterdam quite well after years of visiting, I really loved how an important part of the story was set in our capital. And I guess it's less cheesy than the cities we have seen a thousand times before in movies like this: London, Paris, New York, you name them. Of course those cities are beautiful and romantic, but I thought it was nice to see charming Amsterdam for a change (and yes, there is more than weed and prostitutes there).
I really loved just all of the film. There is a lot of sadness of course, but despite and because of that I think there is so much love, warmth and even humour that you won't necessarily leave the cinema being sad. I love how there is a sense of this honesty about cancer and about the (young) lives of everyone involved, but at the same time I'm happy it's not completely as sugar-coat-free as narrator Hazel claims to be. That might just be why with me, millions of (young) adults around the world (will) love the movie.
90 / 100