Friday, 20 June 2014

The Fault in our Stars

"The Fault in our Stars" is directed by Josh Boone and stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. They play Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and reluctantly fall for each other.

It is unfortunate that just because this story deals with young adults and is superficially a love story, "The Fault in our Stars" is somehow being affiliated with the Twilight franchise and similar cheap moneygrabs. This is the kind of movie that Twilight could not even dream to be.

As I said, the love story in this movie is merely the surface. Gus and Hazels romance is wonderfully realised and a joy to watch, but the real narrative here is Hazels search for the answers to the troubling questions that come with her inevitable demise. This comes in the form of "An Imperial Affliction", a book about Anna, a young girl with cancer, that Hazel relates to and reads over and over again. The book however ends on a cliffhanger and Hazel wants to know what happens to the people surrounding Anna. This question can be directly transposed to her own life.

Apart from a story that is about more than just young love, the script also has a layer of symbolism to it that has to be commended. Especially a sequence featuring the stairs in the Anne-Frank-House in Amsterdam impressed me.

Talking about leaving an impression, the acting in this movie is top notch. Shailene Woodley gives what is probably her best performance so far. She handles the rapid mood-shifts this piece demands perfectly. Ansel Elgorts Augustus Waters feels a little bit idiotic in the beginning, which is only weird until you realise that he is a little bit of an idiot... very smart, but still a little bit of an idiot.
But it doesn't stop there. The supporting cast never misses a beat and especially Laura Dern as Hazels mother is amazing. Just seeing her enter Hazels room packed enough of an emotional punch to reduce some members of my audience to tears.

Finally, Josh Boones direction plays up the fact that not all character work has to be done through dialogue. He doesn't hit you over the head with clichés, actually he manages to keep away from them very effectively most of the time. He also manages to keep the tone light more than you would think in a movie with this subject matter. Some of the most heartbreaking lines in this movie are played down in the editing, which actually serves to make you ponder them more.

So is there anything negative to say about this movie? Well, the music is a little bit on the nose at times... Even though it takes a conscious effort to avoid clichés that come easily with the genre, it can't avoid all of them. But apart from that, this is simply a great movie. I remember being very impressed by the book and this movie actually illustrates some points to great effect that I didn't pick up from the story the first time. Pay no attention to the young adult and chick-flick marketing this movie received. "The Fault in our Stars" is a great movie and you should watch it, no matter if you are a teenager, an adult or even a parent.

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