Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Film Review SPOILERS!

I read this book during summer last year and I loved it. I ugly cried when the twist was revealed that actually Hazel wasn't going to die, Augustus was. That John Green made Augustus believable, losing his confidence, happiness and courage near to the end of his death, was all the worse. It felt like someone you knew really dying. 

When I went to see the film in the cinema last August (a week before my friends and I went to Amsterdam, which was a bit surreal) it was different, because instead of being inside of Hazel's mind you're now just a viewer of her life. There's less of a connection to her and sometimes her actions can seem selfish, which is normal for a teenager anyway, but in the book they were explained much better. Plus, everything seems more romantic written down. In film it can sometimes seem a bit cheesy. However I really liked the way the texts were visualised in the film, as hand-drawn bubbles sometimes with fireworks exploding out of them to give a sense of Hazel's excitement.


I rewatched this film last night and it isn't just a one-watch-wonder. It stands the test of repeat viewings. The Fault in Our Stars is amazing. It makes you laugh in parts (egg-throwing scene), smile (when Augustus and Hazel are falling in love and so cute together), cry (just about the whole last third of the film). The director knows exactly how to play the viewer and manipulate their emotions, which is actually a good thing. Most of the dialogue is directly from the novel so it still retains some authenticity of being Green's own words and his expertly crafted teenage first love story is so perfect it doesn't need changing much at all. Augustus' metaphor - the unlit cigarette - is too obvious for me. It's the kind of thing that is normally used in a literary way, but not stated so explicitly. Even in the book it seemed a bit unbelievable for a teenager to bother doing that. And it's weird Hazel is okay (aw) with it, because he's still essentially plowing money into the big corporations giving people cancer. However the film as a whole is whirlwind ride of first love, teenage angst, emotion, all ramped up by the instability of their diseases. The park scenes, from when they are both relatively healthy to when they know he hasn't got much time left, are beautiful. The trip to Amsterdam is picturesque and full of energy and adventure. Though a lot cleaner and less populated with dudes smoking weed while they ride their bikes than I remember. 

The actors give the performances of their lives, Ansel Elgort (Augustus) is spectacular and in particular the petrol station scene. The struggle not to cry in front of my friends watching him cry was real. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) is - as always - amazing and you forget its her, but sometimes her laughter was so forced it was a bit jarring. Nat Wolff (Isaac) is such a natural, hilarious performance and the eulogy scene where he says he doesn't want to see a world without Augustus Waters is the most heart-wrenching in the whole film, for me. Unfortunately it took a while of getting used to the two main characters because in between watches of The Fault in Our Stars I watched Divergent. (See my review here.) Big mistake - it wasn't worth it, and it's really weird seeing Woodley and Engort transition from brother and sister to boyfriend and girlfriend. They were made to play lovers rather than family, though, their chemistry seems so natural.

In the final third where tissues are a must, waiting for Augustus to die is awful. Every scene is tense, wondering if that's going to be the day. The film doesn't romanticise his illness, neither does the book, and they both deserve some credit for that for the viewers who have been effected by a terminal disease of whatever kind. The final scene of Hazel reading Augustus' final letter is so emotional, and the perfect way to end the film. Unlike the book it doesn't leave you wondering what happens to Augustus' family and friends because you know that, eventually, they'll all be alright. 


Rotten Tomatoes - 8/10 - impressive considering this is made up of critics' opinions. The general consensus is "Wise, funny, and heartbreaking without resorting to exploitation, The Fault In Our Stars does right by its bestselling source material." which I would also agree with.

IMDb: 8/10 - Seems about right. The film has its faults (ha) but overall it's a pretty amazing watch.
- According to this, the film made 10x its budget. 
- The title originates from a Shakespeare quote, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..." and although its a different play, TFIS has a very Romeo and Juliet feel about the story. Just less depressing. And over a longer span than 5 days. And they aren't 13.
- The bench they sit on when Augustus reveals his news was stolen. (By superfans?)