What has got to be the most anticipated romance of the summer, The Fault in Our Stars, has arrived. Yes, it’s geared towards a younger audience who will surely swoon over the tragic, yet incredibly uplifting love story between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. But we have to say that it is magnificently moving, regardless of where you are coming from in life.
When a book as beloved as The Fault in Our Stars gets brought to the big screen there is a bit of apprehension from the legions that made it an international bestseller. But, from the moment that first The Fault in Our Stars trailer landed, there seemed to be a collective release of worry from the fan base that director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber had done justice to John Green’s adored book.
We’re here to tell you that inclination was right. The film has everything the book has. And you know what? It has a little something more in the form of the uncanny way that Woodley and Elgort capture the too-short love affair that brought tears to the eyes of anyone who read Green’s book.
The film is somewhat narrated by Woodley. Well, at least introduced and closed with her voice-over. She could not have been better cast. When she talks about love stories and their happy endings in the intro and states that this is not one of those, some pundits may have believed that that is a surefire way to lose your audience.
In fact, it accomplishes the opposite. We are in -- until the very end. Through only Woodley's characterization of Hazel do I believe the audience would go on this journey.
There is something about the screen persona of Woodley that permeates into audiences' souls. Whether she is trying to change the world in Divergent or getting through her mother’s death in The Descendants -- at this moment in time -- we are witnessing the birth of one who will go down as one of her generation’s greats.
Woodley's Hazel is dying of cancer, but through some miracle drug combination and persistence on her part, she has survived four years longer than anyone expected. Still, she knows she will die. Hazel cannot go anywhere without an oxygen tank and she seems firmly OK with that fact and that one day her lungs will simply quit.
Her parents send her to a support group because they think she’s depressed. She’s not. As she says, “I’m just dying.” It is there that she meets Elgort’s Gus and you won’t get a peep out of us as to how their romance blossoms or the details of their courtship.
What we will say is that Elgort too is a find (he ironically stars as Woodley’s brother in Divergent). And the chemistry between these two hopeless romantics (and hopeless has a very different meaning here) is about as compelling, powerful, uplifting and enlightening as a love story can be.
Our The Fault in Our Stars review has to point out that, yes, the film does not have the happiest of endings. But, does it? Because when we left the theater, there was a whole new outlook on life that came from being reminded to value every day, hour, minute and second and to count your loved ones as the highest form of blessings from above.
Woodley’s Hazel is right in her narration. This is not a happy story. It is so much more.