The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review
An uplifting movie guaranteed to evoke tears of joy and hearty laughter, The Fault in Our Stars is a surprisingly good movie despite being a young adult-oriented romantic drama that isn't about vampires. Featuring great performances by Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern and a touching, hilarious screenplay, The Fault in Our Stars is the feel-good movie of the year.
The Fault in Our Stars is thankfully unemotional despite its story about two love-struck teenagers who have cancer. Such a story could easily have caused a theater's worth of women (and some men) to break down crying repeatedly and my guest to resort to using tissues shoved in the very public cup holder provided at each seat. The movie could have ended with bawling, a thousand tears littering the theater floor.
Please be aware that this review contains a dose, or 17, of sarcasm.
Director Josh Boone has successfully adapted the popular John Green book, which will surely appease the legion of primarily female fans who have laughed, giggled and cheered about the uplifting, not-at-all depressing tale of Hazel and Gus, who say fuck cancer, which causes said cancer to go whimpering away without any lasting side effects.
Woodley is terrific in the lead, once again proving that she is one of the best young actresses working today. Jennifer Lawrence may get the glory, but Woodley delivers an award-worthy performance. Though Elgort's character is more aloof and intentionally cheesy, he, too, turns it on when he needs to—especially in the second half of the movie—and perhaps establishes himself as the most cherished romantic lead since Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.
Not too shabby for a no-name actor.
At first glance, Laura Dern seems out of place in this Twilight-with-no-vampires-but-lots-of-cancer, but once the movie finds its rhythm, you realize why she took the role; though she isn't given a lot of screen time, she nails her pivotal scenes.
Acting aside, The Fault in Our Stars is simply a well made film. The screenplay keeps things as light as possible given the uplifting nature of cancer-ridden children, and the movie offers more than a few laugh-out-loud jokes that not only serve as a means to soften the mood but also keep the characters relatable and believable. Hazel and Gus are fully fleshed characters, an impressive feat for a young adult drama, let alone any movie these days.
The movie does get a little heavy toward the end—I thought about crying once, but then again I didn't want to be a conformist like everyone else in the theater—and frankly, the movie seems to land one or two too many blows just to make people cry. People can laugh and feel joy only so much. The final few minutes—the throwing away of the planned speech cliché, the weird and unrealistic return of (spoiler) Willem Dafoe's character, etc.—are unfortunately a bit contrived.
Nonetheless, The Fault in Our Stars is an entertaining, funny and consistently cheerful romantic drama that is sure to win over female and male fans alike. Bring some tissues because, if you aren't me, which I am pretty sure you aren't, you'll cry (for joy). Had it not been emotionally flat, The Fault in Our Stars could have really been something.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.