STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe
DIRECTED BY: Josh Boone
Immediate Disclaimer: I’ve read the book. This is important, because I know what happens at the end. The idea that I can be surprised by the ending of the movie, or as emotionally distraught as all the 13-15 year old girls I saw this movie with. Uncontrollable sobbing. If you’re a teenage girl, you’re going to apparently sob like a puppy just got hit by a car. If you’re an adult, good news! You can still appreciate this movie.
Shailene Woodley is turning into a superstar, mirroring Jennifer Lawrence’s career. She’s become a much better actress since her days on The Secret Life Of The American Teenager. She almost got an Oscar nomination in The Descendants. She got rave reviews last summer in The Spectacular Now. She landed her own franchise with Divergent. Now she’s got another box office hit with The Fault In Our Stars. And honestly, I know I’ll sound crazy, but this is an Oscar worthy performance. Not worthy of winning, but nomination worthy.
OK. Take the crazy look off your face. Again, refer to the disclaimer. I read the book. Not only does Shailene do a great job with the script as written, but she really perfectly embodies Hazel in a way that co-star Ansel Elgort does not embody Augustus Waters. I realize I angered fans everywhere with that statement. Elgort does a fine job, but he’s not quite as James Dean as Augustus is written in the novel.
Augustus in the novel seemed like a rebel without a cause at times, only in this movie he’s not rebelling against societal constraints or against his parents, he’s rebelling against cancer. He’s rebelling against the nature’s course. Ansel seems at times cute, and boyish. The idea that he could be the rebellious type seems almost silly. Ansel’s just so darn boyishly good looking that you would never hesitate to let your daughter go have fun with him, or travel around the world. The Augustus in the novel wasn’t boyish, he was wise beyond his years. Both of them were.
That’s what made the novel so great was that Hazel and Augustus were self-aware, and talked like actual human beings. Josh Boone did an excellent job putting the novel on the screen. This is an almost perfect adaptation. I just would have preferred a slightly more adult Augustus. The perfection of Woodley almost makes up for what lacks with Elgort.
For the uninitiated, The Fault In Our Stars will hit you emotionally, so be prepared. This is a story about teenagers afflicted with various stages of cancer. It’s a sad movie. It’s also a good movie, and one that I think even those over the age of 18.
FINAL GRADE: A-