Get Swept Away by The Fault in Our Stars

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The first thing a book reader must reconcile themselves with when they hear one of their favorite books is being adapted into a film is that things will be changed.  Sometimes it’s for the better, but more often than not, it’s for the worse.  So a disconnection is usually necessary, treating the film adaptation as its own separate entity.  But sometimes the stars align. The right group of people come together and make a movie that is not only faithful to its source material…but reminds you of why you fell in love with it in the first place.  That is what has happened with The Fault in Our Stars.

The film’s official synopsis is as followed: “Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

In terms of book-to-film adaptations, this one is as close to perfect as one can get.  Of course minor changes are made, such as the exclusion of Monica, Hazel’s friend who is a “35 year old British woman trapped in the body of a 16 year old”.  But as a whole, the film is pretty spot on in terms of following the story line of the book.  The moments I talked about wanting to see in my article “A Love Letter to The Fault in Our Stars” were there for the most part, along with many others.  The thing I loved the most about the film is how well it translated the no-BS tone of the book.  John Green isn’t condescending to his readers but rather treats them as the maturing adults that they are.  The movie did a fantastic job of translating the snappy dialogue and mature conversations that Hazel has with the people around her without making it seem like an episode of Dawson’s Creek.  It was smart without being pompous and sweet without being sappy.

But not only was this film phenomenally written, it was phenomenally cast!  All the haters can step to the left because Shailene Woodley did a fantastic job as Hazel.  She was able to portray Hazel’s dry humor and her brutal honesty perfectly.  And what’s more is that she was able to do so without seeming callous.  She reminded me so much of myself when she freaked out over the news of Augustus receiving an email from Van Houten.  The Night of the Broken Trophies is in the film as well, and it was so hilarious how Hazel and Gus were able to calmly discuss the ending to An Imperial Affliction while Isaac was destroying Gus’ collection of basketball trophies.

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Ansel Elgort was truly the ying to Shailene Woodley’s yang in this movie.  He seemed to understand the character and portrayed his sunny disposition and love of metaphors so perfectly!  I mean, the scene where he explained his having cigarettes to Hazel was so spot on, and at least to me, Ansel seemed to pull it off with style and without seeming corny.  One of his most adorable moments is when their plane is taking off, and Gus is flipping out, saying, “Oh my God, we’re flying!”  His unbounded enthusiasm for the experience is so charming, you can’t but grin and think, “You adorkable nerd!”  Ansel makes you fall in love with Gus all over again, which is awesome.  I mean, if there was ever a book-to-film adaptation where I would have wanted the casting to be flawless, it is TFiOS and they succeeded with flying colors!

f3The supporting cast is amazing as well!  Nat Wolff as Isaac was amazing.  He has one of the best lines in the entire film.  On the Night of the Broken Trophies, when Hazel and Ansel ask him what he wanted to do, he simply replied, “I just want to cry and play video games right now.”  But keep those tissues handy because during a certain scene, he will make you want to drown in a puddle of your own tears.  Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten is truly detestable, which is a good thing!  During his meeting with Hazel and Gus, I wanted to jump into the movie and punch him in the face over and over, just like I wanted when reading the book.  My only real gripes about him are minor.  I would have preferred that he had been a little weightier and wore his safari outfit at his reunion with Hazel.  But given his brutal treatment of the teens previously and the circumstances of his and Hazel’s reunion, I suppose that outfit would have been seen as over the top by audience members.

If I didn’t love my own mom so much, I would totally want the film versions of Hazel’s parents to adopt me.  Laura Dern as Hazel’s mom and the way that she is with Shailene in their scenes together reminded me the relationship I have with my own mom.  They didn’t have any scenes with Hazel and her mom watching America’s Next Top Model, but I’m hopeful for one in the deleted scenes just because of their hilarity.  They did have that heart-breaking moment from Hazel’s recollections of when she thought she was going to die.  Mrs. Lancaster’s devastated cry about not being a mother anymore was like a kick to the stomach and one I’m sure many parents will be able to relate with watching this movie with their kids.  Sam Trammell as Hazel’s dad was great as well.  He is very affable, which was the core of Mr. Lancaster’s character.  The scene where he welcomes his family (and Gus) home from Amsterdam made me go, “Awww!”

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If they ever develop any more of John Green’s novels into movies, I would want this directing and screenwriting trio to develop them.  Josh Boone is relatively new when it comes to his film-making experience, which I think was perfect for this project.  An added bonus is that he himself is a screenwriter, so he knows storytelling.  But luckily he had the screenwriting duo of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who wrote the utterly entertaining (500) Days of Summer.  If you’re a fan of Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Chloe Grace Moretz, I beg you to watch this movie.  Neustadter and Weber have developed another young adult novel called The Spectacular Now, and based on their work with TFiOS, I’m really interested to read this book and see how they did there.

All and all, whether you’re a fan of the book or not, I would highly recommend you go see this movie.  It will put you through the ringer emotion-wise, but you’ll be glad it did.  It has such a great messages and such relatable characters that there is something for just about anyone to be found.  If the fans of the book or newcomers, whoever has seen the film, what are your thoughts?  Were you blown away by it or did you have gripes?  Whatever your thoughts are, comment below and thank you for reading!

Author: Sarah Sue



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