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Film Review: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

A never-better Shailene Woodley anchors director Josh Boone's tricky cancer-themed melodrama.

By Andrew Barker

Andrew Barker

Senior Features Writer

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fault in our stars

Though it’s correctly categorized as a teen romance, “ The Fault in Our Stars ” is above all a movie about cancer. Cancer provides the butt of the film’s most caustic jokes, provides the magnetic pull that first draws its star-crossed couple together, and provides the power with which the story eventually starts to squeeze its viewers’ tear ducts like water balloons in a pressure cooker. As such, it walks a knife’s edge between heart-on-sleeve sensitivity and crass exploitation for its entire running time, and the fact that it largely stays on the right side of that divide has to mark it as a success. Soulfully acted, especially by a never-better Shailene Woodley , and several degrees smarter than most films aimed at teenagers, this Fox melodrama ought to strike a resonant chord with young audiences.

Based on John Green ’s bestselling novel, the film offers the first-person accounts of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley), a bright 16-year-old who can hardly remember not living with cancer. She came perilously close to death as a preteen, but an experimental “miracle” treatment beat her disease back to relatively manageable levels: She has to breathe from a tube tethered to an oxygen tank she lugs around like a carry-on bag, and her lifespan has no clear prognosis, but she’s far from helpless.

Her parents (Laura Dern, Sam Trammell) are a loving, lovable pair who worry that Hazel is becoming depressed, as she has no friends and spends her time endlessly rereading reclusive author Peter Van Houten’s postmodern cancer-themed novel, “An Imperial Affliction.” After some insistently gentle prodding, she agrees to attend a weekly church-basement support group hosted by sappy Jesus freak Patrick (Mike Birbiglia).

Here she meets Augustus Waters ( Ansel Elgort ), a strapping, clever, impossibly handsome 18-year-old whose basketball career was cut short when cancer took his right leg, but who appears to have since made a full recovery. He asks Hazel out on a series of chaste hangout dates, reads her favorite book, stays up until the wee hours on the phone with her, and ever-so-gradually brings her out of her shell.

Hazel is a great character, tart without being cynical, vulnerable without being needy, and capable of tossing out bons mots like “I’m the Keith Richards of cancer kids” without seeming like a writerly construct. Augustus is decidedly less developed, essentially functioning as a male version of the types of restorative free spirits usually played by Kate Hudson and Kirsten Dunst in Cameron Crowe movies, and prone to dandyish flourishes  — particularly his habit of brandishing an unlit cigarette as a sort of totemistic charm against death  — that surely worked better as literary metaphors than visual ones. But their rapport is believable, their chemistry palpable, and the film is never more likable than when it unhurriedly lingers on their low-key courtship.

A few weeks into their relationship, Augustus springs a big surprise: Calling in a favor from a Make-A-Wish-type foundation, he’s arranged a trip for the two of them to Amsterdam, where Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) has apparently agreed to sit down with Hazel and answer her infinite questions about his book. (In one of the pic’s most darkly funny scenes, Augustus mocks Hazel for wasting her wish on a trip to Disney World, “pre-miracle.”)

It’s in Amsterdam that the film opens up visually  — ditching the closeups and domestic interior scenes to take in the well-photographed surroundings  — and Hazel and Augustus forge their most affecting connections. It’s also the only section where the film tips fully over into uncomfortable kitsch, as the couple experiences a romantic breakthrough during a visit to Anne Frank’s attic, while voiceovers recite passages from “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The film may get away with using cancer to tug the heartstrings, but combining cancer and the Holocaust is at least one trigger too many.

But this glaring misstep only goes to demonstrate just how well the film has navigated these choppy waters thus far. Director Josh Boone is hardly the most distinctive cinematic stylist, but he’s smart enough to let his scenes linger for a few beats longer than most mainstream directors would, and seems to trust his actors to carry their own dramatic weight.

Woodley repays that trust in spades. With close-cropped hair and minimal makeup, she eschews any overly theatrical tics, rarely oversells her character’s goodness and wit  — even when her lines seem to be begging for it  — and manages to convincingly convey terminal illness without invoking easy pathos. Though her character may be 16, Woodley’s performance is thoroughly adult, and offers a reminder that, while the occasional multipart blockbuster franchise like “Divergent” can theoretically be part of a balanced diet for a young actress, she has much more to offer the cinema than an ability to run through obstacle courses while mouthing mealy mythology.

Woodley’s “Divergent” co-star Elgort can’t match her level of naturalism, and his cocky, smirking self-confidence never quite jibes with his displays of boundless selflessness where Hazel is concerned, but he’s ultimately charming enough to wear down most resistance.

The screenplay, adapted by “The Spectacular Now” scripters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, does contain a few clunkers, and lays it on a bit thick toward the end, with a procession of scenes ruthlessly rigged to target the few remaining dry eyes in the theater. But on the whole, the scribes give their audience a good deal of credit, looping in some interesting references to neuroethics and calculus without overexplaining or dumbing them down.

Reviewed at Fox Studios, Century City, Calif., May 27, 2014. MPAA rating: PG-13. Running time: 126 MIN.

  • Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox 2000 Pictures presentation of a Temple Hill production. Produced by Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen. Executive producers, Michele Imperato Stabile, Isaac Klausner.
  • Crew: Directed by Josh Boone. Screenplay, Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, from the book by John Green. Camera (color), Ben Richardson; editor, Robb Sullivan; music, Mike Mogis, Nathaniel Walcott; music supervisor, Season Kent; production designer, Molly Hughes; costume designer, Mary Claire Hannan; art director, Gregory Weimerskirch; set decorator, Merissa Lombardo; sound (Dolby/Datasat/SDDS), Jim Emswiller; supervising sound editor, Donald Sylvester; re-recording mixers, Andy Nelson, Sylvester; visual effects supervisor, Jake Braver; assistant director, H.H. Cooper; casting, Ronna Kress.
  • With: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Mike Birbiglia.

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It should be agonizing, this tale of doomed love between cancer-stricken teens. It should be passionate, engrossing, suspenseful, something—even unabashed melodrama would have been appropriate, given the subject matter.

Instead, the film version of the best-selling novel "The Fault in Our Stars" feels emotionally inert, despite its many moments that are meant to put a lump in our throats. Perhaps it’s trying so hard to bludgeon us over the head and make us feel deeply that the result is numbing instead. There’s something just off about it for the vast majority of the time—an awkwardness to the staging, framing and pacing in director Josh Boone ’s adaptation of author John Green ’s tear-jerking, young adult phenomenon, and a need to spell everything out.

So much of what worked on the page—and made Green’s writing so lively and engaging—gets lost in translation and feels uncomfortably precocious when actual people actually say his words out loud. (Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber , who also wrote the romantic charmers " (500) Days of Summer " and " The Spectacular Now ," remained very faithful to the book, which should make the core tween/teen fan base happy. Okay? Okay.)

There’s a specificity to Green’s language; his characters are hyper-verbal, self-aware and fiercely biting in the tradition of " Heathers " and " Clueless ." They know all too well that pop culture depicts cancer—especially young people with cancer—in a mawkish manner that they refuse to accept as they regard their own conditions. But while the flip, jaunty verbosity they use as a shield produces some pleasingly acerbic humor, it often feels forced and false in this setting.

Still, Shailene Woodley ’s abiding, disarming naturalism consistently keeps you engaged. She just doesn’t hit a false note. Following winning turns in the indie dramas " The Descendants " and "The Spectacular Now," and the blockbuster " Divergent ," Woodley continues to cement her accessible and likable on-screen persona. Her work is so strong, it makes you wish she had a better performance to play off of to create the sparky chemistry at the heart of this story.

Woodley stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old Indianapolis girl who’s diagnosed with cancer at 13. It weakens her lungs, forcing her to drag an oxygen tank behind her wherever she goes and to stop to rest after climbing a flight of stairs. While her situation looked bleak a few years ago, participation in a new drug trial has prolonged her life for an indefinite amount of time. Her parents ( Laura Dern and Sam Trammell , with whom she shares some lovely, honest moments) try not to hover over their daughter as she attempts to maintain some vague semblance of teenage life, and they even share her fondness for using dark humor to defuse difficult moments.

Mom insists that Hazel attends weekly cancer support group meetings (where comedian Mike Birbiglia is the amusingly earnest leader). There, she meets the handsome and equally loquacious Augustus Waters ( Ansel Elgort , who coincidentally played Woodley’s brother earlier this year in "Divergent"). A former high school basketball star, Augustus lost his right leg below the knee to the disease and now walks with a prosthetic. In Hazel, he immediately recognizes a kindred spirit: a quick-witted smart-ass who can’t take any of the feel-good platitudes seriously.

While Woodley navigates the complexity of Green’s dialogue with ease, Elgort seems stiff and uncomfortable by comparison. His character is meant to be a bit pompous and formal in the beginning but instead comes off as nervous, and even seems to be rushing or slurring his lines at times. Elgort is boyishly handsome (in a way that’s distractingly reminiscent of " Love Story "-era Ryan O’Neal, actually) but never quite radiates the charisma required to keep up with Woodley. Their pairing feels like a missed opportunity.

Hazel and Augustus’ shared love of reading inspires a trip to Amsterdam to seek out the reclusive writer of Hazel’s favorite novel, the fictitious "An Imperial Affliction," which also happens to be about a young woman living with cancer. Willem Dafoe brings a jolt of creepiness to the role of the alcohol-addled author, a rare sensation in a film that too often feels tidy. Their visit also sets the stage for the oddest scene of all (in both the book and the film) when Hazel and Augustus share their first kiss before an applauding crowd of tourists in the attic of Anne Frank’s house. Yeesh.

Yet we know this bliss can’t last. And so "The Fault in Our Stars" descends into major hanky territory with an overpowering assist from a nearly omnipresent soundtrack of wistful alt-rock tunes that tell us what to feel, and when, and how much. (I will happily admit to having tears stream down my face during the third act of Green’s book but, alas, did not get choked up here.)

Theoretically, these iconoclasts wouldn’t want their story to be told in such obvious and heavy-handed fashion. To borrow their favorite line from Hazel’s favorite book: "Pain demands to be felt."

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for RogerEbert.com since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here .

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language

125 minutes

Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace Lancaster

Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters

Nat Wolff as Isaac

Laura Dern as Mrs. Lancaster

Sam Trammell as Mr. Lancaster

Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten

  • Scott Neustadter
  • Michael H. Weber

Cinematography

  • Ben Richardson

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‘the fault in our stars’: film review.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star in Josh Boone's adaptation of John Green's best-selling young adult novel.

By Justin Lowe

Justin Lowe

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'The Fault in Our Stars': Film Review

The Fault in Our Stars Woodley Elgort Walking - H 2014

With interest in adapting John Green’s fourth novel running high even before its 2012 debut atop The New York Times best-seller list, Twilight producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen managed to snatch up the film rights to the hugely popular narrative, which may have been a bit of a “be careful what you wish for” moment. With the book’s millions of adoring fans eagerly anticipating the movie’s release, a distinct risk of blow-back was practically built in to the project.

Fortunately, director Josh Boone and his filmmaking team appear to have minimized the downside, in part by casting fast-rising star Shailene Woodley in the lead, along with her Divergent franchise co-star Ansel Elgort . Both are likely to be strong selling points with the film’s youth-skewing target audience, which is being further softened up by a robust marketing campaign and Green’s own substantial social media presence. With the onset of summer vacation and few similar distractions in theaters at the outset, The Fault in Our Stars should perform strongly out of the gate, with the potential to show significant staying power in the weeks following.

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If any teenager can reasonably be described as “ordinary,” then 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley) is far from it. A cancer survivor since the age of 13, she’s fully in possession of both keen intelligence and sharp wit, if not her health – a challenging combination for a kid who could clearly do with a few more friends than she actually has. Instead, her most constant companions are the oxygen tank connected to the breathing tube that supports her seriously compromised lungs, along with her concerned mother, Frannie ( Laura Dern ), and protective father, Michael ( Sam Trammell ).

Hazel gets a chance to branch out when, at the urging of both her mom and her doctor, she joins an often lame though occasionally amusing church-based cancer-survivor support group, where she meets 18-year-old Augustus “Gus” Waters (Elgort), an equally precocious teen with a rather more constructive outlook than Hazel’s. Despite losing a leg to cancer, his disease is in remission and he’s dreaming of new ways to conquer the world, along with his best friend Isaac ( Nat Wolff ), who’s battling the affliction as well. Irreverent rather than cynical, he freely shares that he intends to “live an extraordinary life” and bonds with Hazel over her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction , written by Dutch-American author Peter Van Houten ( Willem Dafoe ), which just happens to be about living with cancer.

Hazel is borderline obsessed with contacting the elusive Van Houten, but he never responds to her missives. So it’s a bit shocking and even overwhelming when the writer’s assistant replies to an email from Gus soliciting information about Van Houten’s book. Then Hazel gets a message from Van Houten himself, and the author invites her to visit if she’s ever in Amsterdam. Hazel and Gus, who often insists on calling her “Hazel Grace,” quickly cook up a plan to make the trip, but it’s nixed by Hazel’s doctors and parents, concerned that the stress of the journey will strain her lungs and disrupt the experimental cancer-drug treatment she’s dependent on for her survival.

Meanwhile, Gus is falling hard for Hazel, who is fairly smitten herself, but as her condition worsens, she pulls back, telling Gus “I’m a grenade and one day I’m going to explode and obliterate everything in my wake.” Undeterred, he counters that her withdrawal doesn’t lessen his affection for her, and when he manages to find an unexpected method of funding their travel, the plan is back on again. As both teens face suddenly critical health issues, however, the outcome of both the trip and their increasingly romantic relationship becomes appreciably more uncertain.

The greatest strengths of the film clearly come from Green’s novel, which resolutely refuses to become a cliched cancer drama, creating instead two vibrant, believable young characters filled with humor and intelligence, both facing complex questions and issues unimaginable even to people twice their age. Turning the screenwriting over to adaptation experts Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber has preserved the distinctly literate tone of the book, even if they do occasionally deliver scenes that feel overwrought.

The script makes an excellent fit for Woodley, whose feature film career really took off with The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, two similarly smart, self-aware films. Woodley’s wise and accomplished take on Hazel Lancaster will resonate with those inclined to view the world with a somewhat skeptical point of view, although they may face similar resistance to the prospect of romance entering her life. By dint of ample charm and considerable insight, Elgort’s Gus represents more than a foil for Hazel’s self-doubt – he offers her the opportunity to mold all of her hope and frustration into a fully three-dimensional, transcendent emotional experience, whether she wants to call that “love” or not.

As Hazel’s protective but practical parents , Dern and Trammell display a realistic degree of concern without completely smothering her, and when crisis erupts, their instinctual compassion quickly restores calm. Wolff, whose character loses both eyes to cancer, provides some suitably dark humor , although it’s left to Dafoe as the acerbic author whose young daughter succumbed to the disease to deftly deliver the film’s least reassuring perspective.

Boone’s appropriately light touch emphasizes the underlying literary material, foregrounding the performances with occasional underplayed visual humor and reserving stylistic nuance for more contemplative scenes, attractively framed by cinematographer Ben Richardson. Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott’s score somewhat literally underlines the overly insistent, folky-leaning soundtrack selections from the likes of Tom Odell, Lykke Li and Ray LaMontagne.

Production company: Temple Hill Entertainment Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Mike Birbiglia Director: Josh Boone Screenwriters : Scott Neustadter , Michael H. Weber Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen Executive producers: Michele Imperato Stabile, Isaac Klausner Director of photography: Ben Richardson Production designer: Molly Hughes Costume designer: Mary Claire Hannan Editor: Robb Sullivan Music: Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott

Rated PG-13, 125 minutes

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The Fault in our Stars review – manipulative and crass

You have to admire the brutal efficiency in this emotional teen movie, based on the colossal young adult bestseller by John Green , which for the most part enforces the silver ring of abstinence with cancer. You have to concede the laser-guided accuracy and psychotic vehemence with which it goes for the tear duct. It's like being mugged by a professional whose skills in mixed martial arts you can't help but notice and appreciate, even as you are savagely beaten, then dragged upright, bruised and bleeding, and forced to watch as your assailant gives fully 45% of your money to charity.

Shailene Woodley (from Divergent, and Alexander Payne's The Descendants) plays Hazel, a teenage cancer patient, whose thyroid lesions have metastasised to her lungs; her condition, once gravely critical, has stabilised due to experimental drug treatment, but she has to wheel around a portable oxygen tank, a lite-tragical accessory. In the support group that her mom (Laura Dern) forces her to attend, Hazel catches the eye of Gus (Ansel Elgort), a cute boy, whose osteosarcoma condition is also stabilised after the amputation of one leg, although this is mostly concealed under his jeans.

They are as rich and attractive as teens in a Nancy Meyers movie, with a quirky, smart, back-talking relationship. Life-affirming Gus likes to have an unlit cigarette in his mouth to show his existential defiance. Despite being such an obvious hottie, Gus is a virgin. Hazel's own condition in this respect is apparently so self-evident that she never says it out loud. It is all too clearly Gus's virginity, not his cancer, which is his heartbreaking vulnerability, like Rochester getting to be blind at the beginning and not the end of Jane Eyre. "You two are so adorable," says Hazel's mother, out loud, without anyone nearby screaming.

Hazel is obsessed with a novel called An Imperial Affliction with a bafflingly abrupt ending, all about a girl dying of cancer, written by a reclusive author called Peter van Houten. (The title may have been inspired by Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer-winning study The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.) Impulsive, entrancing Gus whisks her and her mom off to Amsterdam to meet her hero, and it is a journey that is to bring their relationship to a crisis.

Now, there may be people who can witness a halfway competent dramatic representation of the death of children from cancer without choking up. I am not among them – and it was the same before I became a parent. But through the occasional mist of tears, the essential phoney-baloniness of this film looked even worse. Woodley is very good, no doubt about it. What might this talented young star achieve if she were in a film which was not fantastically manipulative and crass?

Flashbacks show that Woodley's character lost her hair when she was 12. It has thankfully grown back, but she is wearing it austerely short. Gus is way cute, and his lifestyle, like Hazel's, does not appear to be modified in any appreciable way by his illness. They are both extremely comfortably off, and Gus's bedroom is like a starter man-cave for a wealthy and obnoxious young man – so ostentatious, in fact, that I assumed some learning experience, some comeuppance, was coming his way.

But no. Their respective parents are also in this too-good-to-be-true bracket, although Hazel's mom appears to have whispered something extraordinary to Hazel, when she was in a grave situation in hospital years previously. It is something that Hazel has not forgotten and that should theoretically deepen and complicate their relationship profoundly. But the pair just hug it out. It's like it never happened.

The Fault in Our Stars reaches a nadir of horror when Hazel and Gus visit the Anne Frank House. The couple are overwhelmed with emotion at their own situation and make out, while the surrounding crowd melt with romcom bliss, offering encouragement in various European languages. The Pont des Arts in Paris is becoming choked with padlocks affixed by lovers. Maybe now there will be a nonstop traffic jam of sad snogging teens in Anne Frank's bedroom.

The title is taken from Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings." Perhaps getting cancer was written in the stars for them, but Hazel and Gus realise that it is "in themselves" to do something in response, up to them to make the best of life. That's fair enough. And perhaps therapeutic escapism is the point of The Fault in Our Stars – although Hazel claims that it is the real thing. This prettified cancer fantasy comes nowhere near.

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Young Love, Complicated by Cancer

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By A.O. Scott

  • June 5, 2014

“The world is not a wish-granting factory.” That line, from “The Fault in Our Stars,” is undoubtedly true, and it is also true that the movie, like the book before it, is an expertly built machine for the mass production of tears. Directed by Josh Boone (“Stuck in Love”) with scrupulous respect for John Green’s best-selling young-adult novel, the film sets out to make you weep — not just sniffle or choke up a little, but sob until your nose runs and your face turns blotchy. It succeeds.

But then again, a brief survey of the story and its themes might make you wonder how it could possibly fail. The main character — whose voice-over narration, drawn verbatim from Mr. Green’s pages, frames the story — is Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager who has lived most of her life with the metastatic thyroid cancer she expects will end it very soon. She falls in love with Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), known as Gus, a fellow “cancer kid” who has lost part of his leg to the disease but who has been healthy since then and is determined to lead “an extraordinary life.”

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As played by Shailene Woodley, a gifted actress grabbing hold of her moment with both hands, Hazel is witty, compassionate and as lovely as a day in June. Her plucky rejection of the usual “cancer story” sentiments becomes a potent form of sentimentality in its own right, and her brave refusal of self-pity ensures the audience’s infinite sympathy. “The only thing that bites worse than having cancer is having a kid with cancer,” she says, and her compassion is borne out by the stricken faces of her parents (Sam Trammell and Laura Dern, both excellent in thinly sketched roles).

Ms. Woodley plays nearly every scene with a plastic oxygen tube anchored to her nostrils and splayed across her face (Hazel’s cancer affects her lungs), but her un-self-conscious performance is the perfect mirror of her character’s pragmatic temperament. Because she never asks for our approval, we are entirely in her thrall. Gus, meanwhile, is such a handsome bundle of chivalry, positive energy and impish self-deprecation that we may swoon over him even before Hazel does. With an unlighted cigarette wedged into his crooked, cocky grin, he is a perfect romantic hero, complete with a semigoofy sidekick (Nat Wolff).

But what can you say about a girl who ... ? The question is not meant to be a spoiler, but rather a point of reference. A long time ago, a movie called “ Love Story ,” also based on a best seller with terminal illness in its plot, swept through the popular culture and landed its female lead on the cover of Time. The film was potent and memorable without being all that good. And yet it is still possible, all these years later, to laugh at the stilted dialogue and awkwardly staged scenes and find yourself wet-eyed and raspy-voiced at the end.

film review essay the fault in our stars

However it might look in 40 years, “The Fault in Our Stars” seems at first glance like a much better picture, thanks to Ms. Woodley’s discipline and to a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber that takes an unhurried, amiable approach to the story. Their earlier screenplays, “500 Days of Summer” and “The Spectacular Now” (also starring Ms. Woodley), were offbeat variations on sturdy romantic-comedy themes, and here they smartly emphasize the dry, idiosyncratic notes in Mr. Green’s sometimes pushy prose.

I’m about to venture onto dangerous ground. Mr. Green’s book is beloved, the emotional power of Mr. Boone’s movie is undeniable, and the real-world experiences behind both are so terrible and complicated that mild skepticism can look like gross insensitivity. Part of the ingenuity of “The Fault in Our Stars” is the way it short-circuits any potential criticism through a combination of winsome modesty and brazen manipulation. These kids are so nice, so wise, so good-humored, and they also may be dying. What kind of a monster could look at them and find fault?

One answer is supplied within the film itself, in the person of Peter Van Houten, a writer whose novel — a cancer story called “An Imperial Affliction” — is a particular obsession of Hazel’s. She shares it with Gus, and the two travel to Amsterdam to find the reclusive author, played with fine, unshaven, whiskey-soaked misanthropy by Willem Dafoe. Van Houten impatiently lectures his visitors on the differences between fiction and reality, but his theoretical points strike them, and are meant to strike us, as both untrue and unkind.

The quarrel between the novelist and his fans, the only real conflict in the film other than the one with disease, is essentially a battle between argument and feeling. It’s hardly a fair fight, and the way it is rigged — fresh-faced, innocent, possibly dying young people facing off against a cynical, broken-down, alcoholic old wreck — provides a clue to the emotional logic of “The Fault in Our Stars.” It’s less a movie about cancer than a depiction — really a celebration — of adolescent narcissism.

Though it is a tragic love story, it is also a perfect and irresistible fantasy. Hazel and Gus possess an absolute moral authority, an ability to assert the truth of their experience that few can share and many might covet. They know the meaning of their own lives, and try as it might, the movie can’t help but give cancer credit for this state of perfection. There is something disturbing about that, and also, therefore, about the source of some of the tears the movie calls forth. The loudest weeping you hear — including your own — may arise not from grief or admiration, but from envy.

“The Fault in Our Stars” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Normal adolescent language and behavior, but not too much of it.

An earlier version of this review misidentified the disease afflicting the character Hazel Grace Lancaster. It is thyroid cancer, not lymphoma.

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  • REVIEW: <I>The Fault in Our Stars</i> Earns Its Big Fat Tears

REVIEW: The Fault in Our Stars Earns Its Big Fat Tears

Fault in Our Stars

H azel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) don’t have absolutely everything in common. For example, her favorite book is the death-drenched An Imperial Affliction , by the mysterious Peter van Houten. His favorite: the novelization of a video game he loves, Insurgent 2 . She’s deep and depressed, he’s all blithe bonhomie.

But both are cancer teens. Augustus, the former basketball prodigy, lost a leg to osteosarcoma; Hazel, with what started as thyroid cancer and has since spread geometrically, lugs around an apparatus the size of a fire extinguisher to pump air into her dilapidated lungs. And if their choice in literature differs, they are together as the heroes of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars , the YA best-seller that is now a pretty fine movie.

(READ: Lev Grossman on John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars )

An adolescent take on the old film weepie Love Story (“What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died?”), Green’s book managed to be both bitingly sarcastic and unashamedly uplifting. Having lived with cancer for half of her 16 years, Hazel has developed an emotional auto-immune system: mockery. She greets anyone in authority — her parents, her doctors, the guy who runs the group-therapy session at a local church — with an eyebrow raised in cynical judgment. She has fully earned the attitude held by many teens: that they’re on a desperate adventure adults simply can’t understand. That adage is true for Hazel, who is likely to die before she can legally buy a beer.

Her doctor has advised doubling her meds, but the true antidote is a strong dose of luh-uv. And Augustus is the sweetest Dr. Feelgood. His seeming ease with his prosthesis, and with what doctors tell him is an 85% chance of beating the disease, complements her dour belief: “Depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.” His Candide and her Cassandra are the perfect match. And what is drama — all drama, really — but the story of beautiful people with horrible problems?

(SEE: A clip from The Fault in Our Stars )

Hazel’s and Augustus’s mutually ticking Doomsday clocks compel them to pack the luster of a lifetime — a first love, a trip to Europe, a meeting with Hazel’s favorite author, a last love — into what may be their only summer. Skeptical Hazel comes alive at the innocent touch of Augustus, whose charm is as urgent as it is benign. He’s like a pop record that has just three minutes to raise your spirits or break your heart. For Hazel, Augustus does both.

They may weave the same magic on moviegoers, so smartly does the film enfold this loving couple in the cocoon of evanescent intimacy. In the screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber — whose scripts for (50o) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now also apotheosized the angst and ecstasy of young love — Hazel and Augustus are all either of them needs. The movie gives them exactly one friend, Isaac (Nat Wolff), for misanthropic commit relief, and cannily excludes Hazel’s parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) from the best parts of her luscious, endangered world. Though they have become expert at fretful optimism and pre-grieving, the parents can be chaperones but not confidants. And they must be denied access to their daughter’s tree house of love.

(READ: Corliss’s review of (500) Days of Summer )

Movies about adolescence as a secret garden, where only misfits fit, bloomed in the 1960s, beginning with David and Lisa : Keir Dullea as the boy who won’t let people touch him, and Janet Margolin as the girl with dissociative identity disorder. Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon turned the duo into a trio: a literally and emotionally scarred young woman Liza Minnelli), an epileptic (Robert Moore) and a gay paraplegic (Ken Howard). Love Story , in 1970, streamlined these mental and physical disabilities into the plot wallop of leukemia, which befalls poor girl Ali MacGraw as her rich young husband Ryan O’Neal sobs and endures. All these decades later, The Fault in Our Stars sets the most toxic misery among the most adorable company.

Fault has a few. A meeting in New Amsterdam with Hazel’s favorite author (Willem Dafoe) seems a bilious detour with an improbable payoff. The trip also affords the filmmakers an egregious scene in the Anne Frank House, where a Jewish girl’s descent into the Holocaust is straight-facedly compared to a teen’s cancer. No, we have to say; they’re different. To paraphrase Hazel’s maxim on infinities: some atrocities are bigger than other atrocities.

(READ: Roger Rosenblatt on Anne Frank, one of TIME’s 100 People of the 20th Century )

Yet Hazel and Augustus will live in film lore because of the young actors who play them. Woodley, who graduated from supporting roles (George Clooney’s rebellious daughter in The Descendants ) and indie leads (the bo0kworm in The Spectacular Now ) to her own YA movie franchise ( Divergent ), has the gift of acting internally: she makes you watch her watch something, lets you read the mind of her character like a good book. Often photographed in dermatological closeup, Woodley’s face is its own engrossing movie — an autumnal symphony of darker and lighter browns. She makes Hazel the ideal narrator and receptive audience to Augustus’ agreeable showmanship.

Elgort, who can also be seen as Woodley’s brother in the Divergent films, has a natural screen appeal and suave chemistry with Woodley. He could almost make smitten girls in the audience think it would be worth getting cancer to meet such a paragon. And though you know that Fault , like Love Story , is bound to have a body count, the symbiosis of these stars is so strong, you’ll wish there could be a sequel.

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The Silver Petticoat Review

Film Review: The Fault In Our Stars

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It’s a story that I hope everyone experiences, in the hopes that people will become more serious and more compassionate about human life.

If you want a compelling, wise, heart felt, and spectacularly twisted story of teenage love, Josh and John are the ones you want. John Green’s novels are the epitome of a YA novel and John Boone’s directing put to life the story of young Hazel Grace and Augustus.

When I found out that Josh Boone was directing The Fault In Our Stars,  I couldn’t contain my excitement. I have only seen one other Boone movie, Stuck In Love , which I only watched one night after work when I just needed something to listen to while I did school work. Immediately I was hooked on the spectacular story of a family of three trying to navigate through their own complicated relationships. Stuck in Love is witty, real, hopeful, and beautiful and is exactly how I would want to make a movie. The fact that Boone was directing TFIOS was great news. (Also writer Scott Neustadter of 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now !!! What a great combo!)

I can only imagine the fear one feels when they agree to adapt a movie that is obsessed over by so many. This film could have gone one of two ways: way too overly depressing or way too overly cheesy. I am pleased to say that the adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars not only exceeded my expectations, but also has added more insight on life, love, and death that I didn’t think was possible.

Yes, okay, everyone was crying after the movie, and the theater was layered in a heavy blanket of boogery mess. It’s hard to convince people that this story isn’t as sad and depressing as some make it out to be. It’s not “One Sick Love Story” as the marketing team so inconsiderately decided to brand it. It’s a story that I hope everyone experiences, in the hopes that people will become more serious and more compassionate about human life.

Hazel Grace Lancaster, played by the Shailene Woodley, is a 17-year-old teenager that loves reading and reality television. She also has cancer. While her doctor is trying to convince her that she is depressed (because “depression is a side effect of cancer”) she is somehow finagled into going to the Cancer Support Group. At this support group, in the “Literal Heart of Jesus” we meet Patrick, the unfortunate man whose sole purpose is to remind the people of the support group that you do not want to end up like him (he is sans one testicle and lives with his parents, enough said). Next is Isaac, played by Nat Wolff, the lovable goof (who also starred in Stuck In Love ), who provides an important comic relief for the audience and reminds us of the different struggles people have with cancer and also with love. And finally, Augustus Waters.

To quote Hazel: “I fell in love with him like you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

Augustus Waters, played by Ansel Elgort, stole the heart of every soul in that theater. Hazel and Augustus have their first conversation outside of the Literal Heart of Jesus. It is sarcastic, witty, and ignites the fire. The conversation takes a turn for the worse when Augustus takes a cigarette out of his jacket and sticks it in his mouth. Hazel is deeply offended by the fact that he seems to be smoking, but it turns out that its all a metaphor. (I know it sounds silly but trust me its great, really!) Augustus doesn’t actually light the cigarette. He uses it as tool of power: “You put the thing that does the killing right between your teeth, but you never give it the power to kill you.” I know, kind of cheesy right? That’s the first thing I thought when I read it in the book (and I’m sure that’s how people felt when it played out on camera). But it’s brilliant really! Think about it: a kid with cancer learning from a young age that life is precious, and that you could die at any second with no warning and you can’t do anything about it besides sit around and hope some Chernobyl type stuff can cure you. Augustus took refuge in the fact that he could have some control, and if that means buying a pack of cigarettes and refusing to light them just for the sake of metaphor then that’s good enough for me.

As you can imagine The Fault In Our Stars is full of metaphors. It’s also full of life lessons jumbled up in the clichéd encouragements given to cancer patients.

Hazel Grace’s obsession with one book is all too familiar for us lovers of the written word. She becomes obsessed with An Imperial Affliction , a book by Peter Van Houten. It’s a book about cancer but not the typical “be positive” or “create a special ‘in loving memory’ fund to raise money for So and So’s cat.” It’s a most perfect book about death from a man who is living. The title is very fitting. If we remember the morbidly fantastic Emily Dickenson’s “There’s a certain slant of Light”, where John Green got the idea to name this fictitious book, it contains the reminder that life isn’t just about doom and gloom.

Hazel presents this book to Augustus and he promises to read it. At this point Hazel is waiting for her phone to ring to get his reaction to the book. She is constantly checking her phone and is disappointed when she doesn’t see his name with a text. The film does a fantastic job at incorporating the texts messages with fancy imagery on the screen. As a text comes in, it is presented on the screen in adorable air bubbles. This is a great feature to include in the film because it reminds the audience of the real reason TFIOS is a movie, because we first read the book.

The book becomes Hazel and Augustus’ baby. They re-read it and re-read it and have questions about it that have never been answered because of the reclusiveness of Van Houten (ooo another illusion to Dickenson I see). Before Hazel even met Augustus she had been writing to Van Houten begging for answers, but to no avail. Augustus on the other hand is able to get through to him via his assistant (don’t know why Hazel didn’t think of that).  Hazel finally gets an email through to him and he responds asking her to go to Amsterdam, where he lives, to ask him questions in person.

Unfortunately, it costs money to be sick. Mrs. Lancaster reluctantly says no to Hazel Grace because they can’t afford it. She also has already used up her Super Special Awesome Trip To Remind You That You Still Have Life Before Your Inevitable Demise (that’s what I’m going to call it) or basically the equivalent of the Make-A-Wish foundation. She used it on Disneyland, which to Augustus is disgusting and he knows she could have done better (but honestly who wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland for free?). But luckily, Augustus has yet to use his wish…

Augustus and Hazel (and Hazel’s mom because who is going to send two teenagers to Amsterdam without a chaperone?) embark on a dazzling and breathtaking trip to Amsterdam to meet Van Houten and ask him their burning questions.

Before Augustus and Hazel meet Van Houten, they go to dinner at Oranjee (still don’t know how to pronounce it. Is it Orange-ee? Oran-ji? No idea.) At this super fancy and super romantic restaurant Augustus and Hazel are talking about death. The screen fades into a conversation they are having about death where Augustus says “God?” and Hazel answers “No.” It suggests that Hazel is saying that she does not believe in God. This is a question that had to have been entered in by the writers because it was not in the book. There is no questioning of God. Heaven, yes, but not God. I find this key philosophical question rather perfect, for me especially, because it seems like John Green did not really want to delve into the whole believing in god or not deal with Hazel. The existence of god is easy to question when faced with death everyday. The fact that the writers decided to make a subtle remark on Hazel’s feelings makes me believe that the adaptation of TFIOS was not only to reimagine the story but also to transform it into something more.

Oh, and also Augustus says that he loves Hazel and its really romantic and awesome, and I loved every second of it. But you have to see it for yourself because I don’t think I can retell the beauty.

During this trip Hazel and Augustus find out that Van Houten is not the man they thought he was. He turns out to be an unworthy drunk that gets Hazel so worked up that she ends their visit with a fabulous “fuck you.”

Though their expectations were not met, they decide to go to the Anne Frank House. At the Anne Frank House they finally kiss. I say finally because throughout the movie (mostly the book) the relationship between Augustus and Hazel Grace is so perfect you wonder why they haven’t jumped on each other!

But we must not victimize cancer and remember that they still have a life to live and they are going to celebrate every last second of it.

What’s really interesting about this point is that I think John Green did this wonderfully. They don’t kiss until they are in the Anne Frank House, a place that I’m sure is full of upsetting imagery that can only make everything feel totally unromantic. However, maybe going to the Anne Frank House is supposed to inspire the two. Anne Frank had to hide from people who wanted to kill her and she made it far enough to actually live a somewhat normal teenage life (I mean by having feelings for a boy and being angsty and what not). Maybe the house was actually supposed to make them feel more alive than ever? Throughout the scene, passages were read from The Diary of Anne Frank and quotes can be heard from Otto Frank (Anne’s dad). Boone’s creativity with the scene actually helped me to understand the point of them being at the Anne Frank House. The sounds are played perfectly throughout the scene, at the right moments, to play against Hazel’s struggle to walk through the house with an oxygen tank.

And finally Augustus decides to end the trip with some information that made us gasp for air just as Hazel does. His PET scan “lit up like a Christmas Tree” and we find out his cancer is back. And it sucks.

After a bout of rebellion that involved throwing eggs at Isaac’s evil ex-girlfriends car,

Elgort has an impressive scene with Woodley that displays the lows of cancer. He is helplessly stuck at a convenience store in his car because he is having a sort of episode that involves realistic gagging and a terrifyingly unhealthy looking Elgort. I think that the only reason this scene has so much power is because of the fact that the Augustus’ cancer is internal. We see Hazel throughout the movie, always pulling her oxygen tank behind her with her cannula firmly in her nose. There is no way of hiding her cancer. But Augustus could walk down the street looking fit as a fiddle (besides a slight limp and a metal leg that could easily go unnoticed). We are seeing, for the first time, Augustus’ cancer. And it’s proving to us that he will not live to be an adult. Augustus is rushed to the hospital after Hazel finds him with vomit on his shirt.

After Augustus’ episode, in an impromptu setting late at night, Hazel, Isaac, and Augustus meet in a synagogue in the “Literal Arm of Jesus”. Augustus wants to attend his own funeral. Hazel and Isaac write eulogies for Augustus. Starting with Isaac, he performs a hilariously witty soliloquy that makes you laugh and shed a silent tear. Hazel performs her eulogy, it is perfect, and we all cry and you realize that the reality is that they have cancer and they can die.

“Augustus Waters died eight days after his prefuneral…when the cancer, which was made of him, finally stopped his heart, which was made of him.”

Yes Augustus dies. He dies and we are all mad about it and it sucks.

His death does not end the movie. There is more to discover about Augustus. We find out that he wrote a letter to Van Houten before his death. Augustus asks Van Houten’s advice on how to write a eulogy for Hazel. He spills his heart out in the letter and expresses his love for Hazel. This sweet moment is the last piece of Augustus that we experience with Hazel. It is the last hope that there is some sort of closure between the two and that he didn’t just die miserably. His spirit held on and left us one last instant of the power of the Augustan heart.

Whether this movie is a commentary on how we view people with cancer, or a metaphorical stance on how to live life, I just hope that people come out of the theater and realize that nothing is guaranteed and life isn’t fair at all. The true magic of this story is that everyone can get past feeling depressed, sad, angry, and scared and come out of it feeling like you’re on a roller coaster that only goes up.

I am so happy about the way the movie turned out. I wouldn’t change a thing. It makes me excited for future Boone productions and future John Green adaptations (next is Paper Towns !).

Overall Rating

Five Star Rating border

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

Romance Rating

Five hearts border

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

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2 thoughts on “Film Review: The Fault In Our Stars”

I may be the only person on the planet who hasn’t read TFIOS. I just can’t bring myself to read a book I know can’t have an ending I’m going to like. I won’t be watching the film either – crying gives me puffy eyes and a headache 🙁 But I was really interested to read your take on it and learn a bit more about the plot 🙂

Wow thank you! I have yet to think of a good argument to have people read this book (or see the movie) besides the usual “Oh my god its so good!”

All I can say is: its okay to cry! Its okay to get emotional! Don’t be afraid of those feelings!

I think you should give it a chance!

Comments are closed.

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The Fault in Our Stars film review

The film is faithful to a fault from the dialogues to the clothes, the setting and the food, even while skipping over some of the unpleasant details..

film review essay the fault in our stars

Director: Josh Boone Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern Indian Express rating: **1/2

“The world is not a wish-granting factory” doesn’t have quite the resonance of “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?”. However, that’s not for the lack of trying. Forty-four years after that opening of Love Story and the ailing woman at the centre of it surged the book and movie to a monster success, here’s another film trying to make the best of a bestseller that was saved from being mawkishly exploitative only because of the spunky, raw and brutally honest notes it managed to strike at regular intervals.

film review essay the fault in our stars

But even John Greene’s book The Fault in Our Stars was transparent in its almost obsessive philosophising, realising that in the well-endowed market of young adult fiction, cancer isn’t enough to get romance love. However, where Greene brought in ethical theories, Venn Diagram, maths, metaphors and a very unlikable author with an equally verbose bent of thought, he also let his teens be teens in a world where few saw beyond her cannula plus oxygen tank and his prosthetic leg, including overindulging in video games.

Despite a readymade audience that comes with such gigantic bestseller, translating all of the above from the romance and the loving to the disease and the dying was never going to be easy. If Boone even gets halfway there, it is on account of Woodley (last seen in Divergent), who truly gets the unlikely Hazel Grace Lancaster that’s at the centre of this story.

Diagnosed with cancer when she was 13 and a death experience later, Hazel is now 17, breathing with the help of a nose cannula, quiet, more tired than cynical about her circumstances, and quite adult in her reactions. That’s clear from even the book she swears by, An Imperial Affliction, about a girl dying from cancer, which ended mid-sentence. The only subject that gets Hazel animated is a reflection on what happens later, after the girl, Anna’s, death.

Festive offer

When an impossibly charming 18-year-old Augustus Waters appears to take a liking to her, at a mutual cancer support group, and equally to the book – which is way out of his normal zombie reading – their fates are but sealed together. Augustus lost his leg to osteosarcoma but now appears on the bend.

To anyone familiar with the book, the film is faithful to a fault from the dialogues to the clothes, the setting and the food, even while skipping over some of the unpleasant details including what would have been an awkward sex scene. It also throws in a limousine for apparently no reason at all.

However, while these dilute the film of some of its essence, the more unpardonable flaw is how insipid all the other characters are, particularly Augustus who exists merely to fulfill Hazel’s dreams unlike the contrast-ridden dreamboat he was in the book.

The film also labours to underline the connection between Hazel’s search for an afterlife for Anna’s story and her concern for her own parents after her death – unlike how it flowed quite naturally in the book. And that’s nothing compared to how it uses Anne Frank’s story to illustrate Hazel’s struggle.

That Woodley even walks away from that last scene — struggling for breath and hauling her oxygen tank up impossible flights of stairs in the Amsterdam house Anne Frank took refuge in, ending it with her first kiss with Augustus and an applause – unharmed, is to her credit. She makes it all seem plausible, pulling along a mostly overwhelmed Elgort with her.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” is another favourite line of The Fault in Our Stars – the point being about time being what you make of it. The film may not stand that test of time but, something tells us, the line will. That may be infinite enough.

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The Fault in Our Stars Reviews

film review essay the fault in our stars

The subject matter — a pair of teenage cancer sufferers meet and fall in love — could have been mawkish mush, but there’s a sharp, abrasive wit and anger that tempers the tear-jerking with humour.

Full Review | Feb 13, 2023

film review essay the fault in our stars

It actually presents us with situations and a relationship that feels genuine yet uncertain because of the dark cloud hanging over it.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Aug 20, 2022

film review essay the fault in our stars

My biggest complaint about the whole experience was being splashed by the tears of my fellow moviegoers. Bring a towel.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Feb 1, 2021

The reason that The Fault in Our Stars works so well is that its main draw (the teenage love story) is tied so expertly to its emotional core (Hazel's relationship with her parents).

Full Review | Jan 21, 2021

The winning combo of the shamelessly melodramatic and the slyly mischievous that powers the movie owes much to yet another pitch-perfect lead performance from Woodley.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Nov 17, 2020

film review essay the fault in our stars

Sadly, in Hollywood's hands all the things that made John Green's taut, touching and terrific 2012 novel transcend generation gaps have been jettisoned in favour of a hyperglycaemic tale of two star-crossed (cancer-riddled) teens.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Nov 10, 2020

film review essay the fault in our stars

In other words, this is real. If anyone tells you differently, they haven't a clue.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4.0 | Sep 7, 2020

film review essay the fault in our stars

In a laudable attempt to seem heartfelt without blatant manipulation, the film generally succeeds, thanks especially to a winning performance from Shailene Woodley.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Aug 30, 2019

film review essay the fault in our stars

It's charming, well-written, superbly acted.

Full Review | Original Score: 9.4/10 | Aug 8, 2019

Heartfelt, sincere and altogether rather wonderful, The Fault in Our Stars will enchant audiences and leave behind very few dry eyes in its wake.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jun 14, 2019

film review essay the fault in our stars

It all felt kind of manipulative and corny.

Full Review | Original Score: D | Apr 30, 2019

film review essay the fault in our stars

Woodley and Elgort are gifted in that they exude intelligence, thoughtfulness, and savvy, making smart dialogue sound smart, the corniest lines sound terribly romantic and natural.

Full Review | Original Score: 8/10 | Mar 28, 2019

Under the assured direction of Josh Boone, the film earns its emotions without grand manipulative gestures, and finds its heart through the fantastic cast and an effortless and appealing intimacy between the characters.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Mar 26, 2019

Dafoe is, as expected, solid in the role, but I felt the storyline on the whole could have been a little tighter. That's a minor fault however, in a script whose stars make it all worthwhile.

Full Review | Mar 5, 2019

film review essay the fault in our stars

The talented cast and crew enhance what is already some pretty good material, making "Fault" a teenage tearjerker that doesn't fall into a typical Hollywood weeper formula.

Full Review | Original Score: A- | Feb 1, 2019

It's sweet, cathartic and a bit beautiful. Just make sure you bring Kleenex.

Full Review | Jan 31, 2019

In the end, this adaptation may not be all that different than effective screen tearjerkers of the past, but in staying true to its source material, its infinity is bound to be a little bigger than most.

Full Review | Nov 20, 2018

film review essay the fault in our stars

It will certainly be a tearjerker for some, but the film's final triumphant message means that you shouldn't be too depressed when you leave the theatre.

Full Review | Original Score: 8.5/10 | Nov 1, 2018

film review essay the fault in our stars

The two-hour and five-minute running time of continuous sadness and unending pearls of wisdom made this viewer disconnect from the characters.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4 | Aug 21, 2018

film review essay the fault in our stars

The problem may be that The Fault in Our Stars is based on a book by John Green; this certainly wouldn't be the first time a strong literary narrative had troubles translating to the screen.

Full Review | Nov 28, 2017

film review essay the fault in our stars

The Fault In Our Stars

Movie Still from The Fault in Our Stars 2014

The Fault In Our Stars (directed by  Josh Boone ) is the screen adaptation of the bestselling book of the same name (written by author John Green). Hazel Grace Lancaster ( Shailene Woodley ) is a long-time cancer survivor who carries an obligatory oxygen tank wherever she goes. Concerned with her daughter's depressive state (for reasons known to us), Hazel's mother, Frannie Lancaster (played by Laura Dern) lovingly pushes her to attend a cancer support group. While attending the said support group, Hazel locks eyes with Augustus Waters ( Ansel Elgort ) and from then on, a blossoming relationship begins.

Willem Dafoe.  What the hell, Dafoe.  I'm accustomed to seeing him in the less mainstream films (such as  Lars von Trier's     Antichrist  and  Nymphomaniac ). This appearance is simultaneously unnerving and baffling, to say the least. He plays Peter Van Houten, a caricature of a pissed-off writer whose last book had caught the admiration of lead character Hazel.  Subsequently, the two teens travel to meet him in a scene that can only be described as saddening and utterly bizarre. Eventually, he's villainous behavior is given an explanation in an attempt to give his character depth.

Making out at Anne Frank's exhibition.  Ugh, people actually watched them passionately make out and started clapping and cheering. I've read other people's takes on this scene being quite fitting considering Anne Frank's narration was playing as Hazel struggled to make it up the stairs of the exhibition. I do not agree. Why would a crowd of people surround you and applaud you, no matter the situation? It felt unrealistic and out of place.

Drama central.  From this, I mean the all the talk of dealing with tragedy, cancer, death and consequently having to do so at such a young age. The main characters, Augustus and Hazel try to uncover their lives impact, the meaning of life and aim to experience their short times on earth together.  Laura Dern  delivered a   splendid and non-standardized portrayal of a parent with a terminally ill child.

Funny bits.  So that audiences do not sob throughout the entire movie,   The Fault in Our Stars  has incorporated dashes of comedy. Especially seen in the encounters with their mutual friend Isaac ( Nat Wolff ). I'll admit that a few of the sickly sweet dialogue between the couple made for some chucklesome scenes.

That cigarette close to death metaphor.  It can only be described as an agonizingly reoccurring bit.   Augustus never failed to have an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth (being seated on an airplane, rocking up in a limo etc.)

Grab some tissues, you'll need them. 

film review essay the fault in our stars

Film Review "The Fault in Our Stars"

The fault in our stars is a deeply emotional tale while sometimes funny story of teenage terminal cancer patients. The movie centers around Hazel, The main character and narrator of The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is 16 years old and has been dealing with thyroid cancer (Your thyroid is shaped like a small butterfly, and is typically located inside the lower front of your neck. It’s a gland that controls your metabolism. It also releases hormones that direct many functions in your body, including how you use energy, how you produce heat, and how you consume oxygen.

Thyroid cancer develops when cells change or mutate.

The abnormal cells begin multiplying in your thyroid and, once there are enough of them, they form a tumor. After three years the cancer eventually spread to her lungs Because of this, she uses a portable oxygen tank to breathe properly. She knows that she has a limited time. people who experience later-onset chronic illness or acquired disability (CIAD) may find their sense of self suddenly and dramatically challenged or altered.

These persons may be faced with significant changes in their social and familial relationships and life roles while dealing concurrently with psychological distress, physical pain, prolonged medical treatment, and gradually increasing interference in or restriction of the performance of daily activities( Charmaz, 1983; Livneh & Antonak, 1997).

She is very close with her mother and father and has mostly left behind the friendships she had before she was diagnosed with cancer since she was pulled from public school.

film review essay the fault in our stars

Proficient in: The Fault In Our Stars

“ This writer never make an mistake for me always deliver long before due date. Am telling you man this writer is absolutely the best. ”

Since she was able to get her GED, Hazel attends classes at a local community college when her health permits. Another patient Augustus (Gus), lost part of his leg to osteosarcoma which is one of the most common type of cancer that begins in the bones. The cancer cells in these tumors look like early forms of bone cells that normally help make new bone tissue, but the bone tissue in an osteosarcoma is not as strong as that of normal bones.

Most osteosarcomas occur in children and young adults. Teens are the most frequently affected age group, but osteosarcoma can develop at any age. Gus is thought to have an 80% chance that he’ll beat it and be cancer-free, though he has a relapse midway through the movie that leads to his death late in the movie. He falls quickly for Hazel and they begin dating, though she is scared of hurting him through her illness. Gus is a witty character who loves metaphor, symbolism, grand romantic gestures, and he wishes to die with dignity for something larger than himself. Gus was a natural athlete and walks with a slight limp. Always joking, he’s the type of person that you want to be around. He likes Hazel who doesn’t want him to be burdened with someone who’s going to die. Especially because she knows that his former girlfriend was also a cancer patient who passed away. Little by little they get to know each other, and share their likes, all the while making jokes between themselves and others about cancer and death.

Hazel loves a certain book, which was the only book written by an author who now lives in Amsterdam. The book ended abruptly and it was a philosophical book. She gets Gus to read it and Hazel only wants to be able to go to Amsterdam to meet the author and ask him what happened to the characters. Through a make a wish type of organization, she had used her wish to go to Disney World, but Gus tells her that he’s using his wish for the two of them to go to Amsterdam to meet the author. The journey of what they go through on a daily basis, the experience of seeing friends both passing away or losing limbs, and not knowing how much time is left, is wrenching, but the light-hearted attitude of these teenagers is uplifting.

The parents of these children also go through pressures. Childhood cancer is not an individual disease. It affects the whole family, community and society. Parents of children with chronic medical conditions and associated disabilities have substantial caregiving responsibilities different from those of typical children (Marini, Stebnicki, 2012). Frannie Lancaster who is Hazels mom obviously loves Hazel very much, but Hazel feels that she is limiting her mother because her mother has had to leave work and devote all of her attention to Hazel and her medical treatments. This is a common occurrence in situations similar to this as stated in the book Parents feel that they “always needed to be with their child,” and most had changed their career plans to devote more time to caregiving. Parents also expressed anxiety about making difficult medical and educational decisions for their children.

Activities outside the home required extensive planning and preparation and maintaining a social life was perceived as challenging because friends and relatives did not always understand the families’ limitations in activity (Marini, Stebnicki, 2012) Late in the movie, however, Hazel learned that, for the past year, Frannie has been pursuing a Masters in Social Work online. Michael Lancaster is incredibly emotionally invested in Hazel’s survival, though he must continue working to support the family; as a result of this, he knows less about Hazel’s illness and treatment than other characters.

Hazel’s father cries often, leading to more guilt on Hazel’s part that she is going to leave her family devastated when she dies. People have special ways of reacting to hard circumstances. When confronted with the terminal diagnosis of a family member or relative, people’s different coping tactics could at times cause hostility between family members.in this case hazel and her family are extremely close which is she feels that her parents may think their live are over once she dies and that is something she definitely does not want. Some parents who were faced with their child’s diminishing health on a daily basis feel aggravated when others put a positive spin on the situation. While staying positive against the odds helped some people cope better.

Some parents feel a need to be straightforward and accepting about the imminent death of their child. Parents who became carer’s for their sick child found that it was likely to take its toll on the relationship with their own partner. Focusing time and attention on the sick child meant that parents were less available for the needs of others and less patient than they might have been otherwise. Although some parents express stress related to coping with the caregiving load, they viewed having a child with chronic medical conditions as a positive experience that brought cohesion to their family.

The parents explained that their experiences with their children helped them to appreciate life and develop more sensitivity to and tolerance of individual differences. The parents had become strong advocates for their children and other children with similar needs. (Marini, Stebnicki, 2012) I certainly feel They did a good job showing the thoughts and emotions people with cancer struggle with. Since these thoughts and emotions tend to give rise to such painful experiences, it is difficult to watch it in a movie.

Yet, a failure to portray these truths would be a slap in the face to people who have cancer and would fail to show the truth about having a life-threatening illness. This movie showed the hard truth of real life every day young people coming to realization and acceptance over the fact that they may die at a young age at any time. some attitudes, related to people with disabilities, conveyed are Lack of affective preparedness. In the movie you can see people tend to give them special treatment due to their disability the movie also shows a lack of experiential contact and exposure to PWDs Anxiety-Provoking Unstructured Situations when people in the movie see Hazel carrying around her oxygen tank or Gus with limping due to His missing leg they were triggered by the sight of a person with a visible disability Feelings of repulsion and discomfort when come in contact with certain disabilities Reaction to amputations and body deformities, etc. Threat to the body image Discomfort seeing a person with a physical disability because of incongruence between expected ‘normal’ body and the actual perceived reality Reawakening of castration anxiety.

I think this movie has changed a lot attitudes towards people with disabilities seeing how It changed my perspective on life because I feel like you should definitely live life to the fullest and it showed me that there is always a way to be positive even if something very terrible is happening in your life. I don’t know any people who are struggling with cancer, but I never really understood how hard it was; just that it was bad and I’m not saying I fully understand now because I don’t.

But I do think I have a better understanding now and I’m pretty sure this movie did that for others as well. Some issues related to people with disabilities did that this movie illustrated are that sometimes it’s hard to relate to people who aren’t dealing with the same things you are their concerns may be miniscule compared to what people with this disability may have to deal with on a daily basis also the effects of the disability on family and relationships the hardships that come along with caring for a child with a disability but also the person with a disability keeping a social life which this movie touched on that’s where hazel added people to her life besides her family which is very important I researched a study published in the December 12, 2016 issue of the journal Cancer found that socially well-connected patients even had a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and reduced breast cancer death rates.

My personal reaction to this movie is that I should really be appreciative of all that I have and of the things that I don’t have to worry about because others are not so lucky some have to deal with certain situations that so hard as an everyday occurrence and those people are so strong and inspirational. It makes me want to take a step back and enjoy each day like it is your last because for some it may be.

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Reflection On The Film The Fault In Our Stars

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