This film is a deeply emotional roller coaster ride about life and unfinished business. It boldly takes on the subject of cancer and all of its painful side effects for a young teen, who is unwilling to yield to the deadly disease. “The Fault In Our Stars” refuses to be a movie solely about cancer and the pain it causes, instead focusing on relationships and living life to the fullest. Yes, pain demands to be felt; but it doesn’t need to be at the expense of friends, family and true love. The narrative triumphs because it doesn’t shy away from the lives that cancer affects while illustrating the strength to keep moving along in life. Such an emotional, touching journey is difficult to impart upon viewers through the big screen, but this film nails it.
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort team up again (“Divergent”, 2014) in this heart-wrenching teenage love story adapted from the best-selling novel by author John Green. Woodley’s character, Hazel, is suffering from Stage IV thyroid cancer and meets a cancer survivor, Gus Waters (Elgort). They embark on a quest to get closure on a book’s ending that results in learning more about each other along the way. Hazel and Gus support and grow closer to one another, and in doing so, they draw in audiences–all left to cope and carry on despite emotional setbacks. The resilient message is to acknowledge the pain we’re dealt while continuing to embrace life and its sometimes incomplete endings.
A testament to the film’s powerful screen performances is the laughter, tears and vulnerability it invokes from the audience. The relationships are genuine and heartfelt throughout, regardless of whether the scene is between a teen and her parents or between Hazel and her lover. Emotions in the theater will run wide and deep, as moviegoers relate to the circumstances and grieving that cancer inflicts.
Newcomer Josh Boone (“Stuck in Love”, 2013) deserves high praise for directing this poignant film and staying true to Green’s vision in the book. While the movie runs a respectable 2 hours and five minutes, it felt shorter than that to this viewer. Perhaps that’s due to the growing number of films today with running times closer to 3 hours than two. Regardless, my only regret is that Boone underdeveloped Gus Waters’ back-story, not allowing us to fully appreciate how he became such a special young man.
“The Fault In Our Stars” will resonate with viewers of all demographics because it touches upon such universal themes. The film’s realism, coupled with Woodley’s Oscar-worthy performance, make “The Fault In Our Stars” an extremely moving experience. Its heartrending story meshes love and relationships into the single message of acceptance. The plight of these two star-crossed lovers puts our ordinary challenges into perspective. The painful fault of cancer must be felt, but it doesn’t need to hold us back. Not from each other or from living life to the fullest. Be prepared…this is a must-see film that viewers will find both touching and impactful. “Okay?”
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