I was lucky enough to watch The Fault In Our Stars a few months ago, which means I saw it before all of the hype.
I did see it a while ago, but even by that point, my expectations were high. REAL high. John’s Green novel was one of my favorite books of 2012, and when I re-read it for FYA Book Club, I teared up just as much as I did the first time. Y’all, I even used a passage from Hazel’s eulogy for Gus (our little infinity!) at my freaking wedding.
So yeah, it’s safe to say that I love this book, and I did not need Hollywood swooping in and effing it up. Which is why I am relieved (SO RELIEVED) to report that my worst fears were not realized, and my greatest hopes, while not completely achieved, certainly weren’t dashed. This movie is good. It’s great, in fact. And I can’t wait to convo about it with you in the comments!
But first, some important points for discussion:
1. The Crying
I kept careful Cry Notes while I was watching this movie, and by the end, my tear ducts were EXHAUSTED.
First Sign of Tears: 15 Minutes In (when Hazel’s mom tells her she can let go in the hospital)
Number of Times I Teared Up: 6
Number of Times Tears Spilled Down My Face: 3
Number of Times I Ugly Cried: 2
2. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort
I’ll be honest, Shailene Woodley feels overexposed to me right now, and I was wary of Ansel Elgort’s ability to really express Gus’ spirit. Both actors are talented, but not immensely so (in my opinion), so while I thought their performances were solid, they didn’t blow me away. Woodley’s Hazel wasn’t that much different than her Tris, while Elgort’s Augustus was charming but not exceptionally layered. Fortunately, the rest of the cast was AMAZING. (More on that below.)
With that said, Woodley and Elgort are still far superior in their acting to the cast of
Twilight other YA adaptations.
3. Faithfullness to the Book
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more accurate cinematic adaption of a novel. The script felt like it was directly lifted from the book’s dialogue, which is great, because John Green’s writing really can’t be improved upon. From the “wish granting factory” to “I fell in love the way you fall asleep,” the film exalted all of my favorite lines, and I did a little fist pump for every single one. I was also supremely happy that the screenplay contained my most cherished scene in the book, when Hazel discovers that her parents will have a life even after she’s gone. (And yes, that was the first time I ugly cried during the movie.)
But it’s not just about the words in the book, it’s also about the feel of the book, and the film totally nailed it. The best example, in my mind, is the scene at Anne Frank’s house, which pulsed with emotion. That moment could have easily slipped down a saccharine slope, but instead, it felt so nuanced and raw, with the crowd applause (in the film) for Hazel and Gus’ kiss adding a wonderful touch of lightness.
Also, as John Green pointed out in our Q&A, the film widens our perspective of Hazel’s story, because we’re not longer limited to seeing everything through her eyes. There were tiny details that spoke volumes about various characters, such as Hazel’s mom rushing in wearing a bath towel because Hazel called for her. Just that one second in the film gave me so much insight into what life was like for that character.
- Laura Dern and Sam Trammell’s performance as Hazel’s parents was INCREDIBLE. Like, Dern should be nominated for an Oscar (seriously), while Trammell transformed the mere act of holding a “Welcome Back” sign at the airport into a staggering expression of love.
- While Dern certainly achieved the greatest acting heights in this film, my favorite person in the movie was, hands down, Nat Wolff as Isaac. DUDE. MARRY ME. His trophy trashing scene was KILLER, and the egg-throwing was absolutely divine. I can’t wait to see him in Paper Towns.
- Mike Birbiglia as Patrick. Enough said.
- Willem Dafoe was an inspired choice for Van Houten, and he was a sublime blend of awful, tortured, and funny.
- Um, how gorgeous was his assistant?!!!!
- The soundtrack was fantastic!
- Augustus standing up through the limo’s sunroof as it pulled up felt straight out of John Hughes’ playbook, and I loved it.
- The champers! When we screened TFiOS at the Alamo event with John Green and Josh Boone, we surprised the audience with champagne during that scene, and as everyone clinked their glass with Gus and Hazel, all felt right with the world. Also, my friends are about to get REAL tired of me saying, “This tastes like stars!” every time I drink champers (which is all the time).
Okay, I’ve blabbed enough. I’m dying to know what y’all think about the movie! Are you happy with it? Are you disappointed? What did you love? What did you take issue with? LET’S CONVO.