The Fault in Our Stars Review
Matt - wrote on 08/18/15
I'm not much of a reader, so I haven't read the book. But I do like these type of stories, so I thought I'd give this movie a watch. I heard it was a good young-adult tear-jerker, so I watched it on a long flight with optimism. Thankfully, it managed to exceed my expectations.
The Fault in Our stars is a great movie. The biggest reason that this movie works is that it feels real. The characters act and talk like real teenagers and they're not card stock movie cliches. There's Augustus, who is the brash, outgoing, lively risk taker, and that could have led to the movie making him like every other lively risk taker we've seen in movies. But they develop him well and make him his own character. They keep his personality subtle, which is really effective to bring him to life.
One problem that plagues many movies that are supposed to be sad is that they make it too heavy-handed. Every scene could have a character monologuing about how every moment of their life is agony. I mean, we need to get in the heads of the characters, but when they make it too heavy-handed, the characters don't feel real and we miss out on other parts of the character that would help develop them. But here, Augustus and Hazel spend much of the film having a good time and happy, which makes the sadder scenes all the more effective and tragic. They have dealt with their illnesses for a while, so rather than brooding all the time, they try to live life to the fullest. I prefer this approach to the terminal illness storylines.
The Fault in Our Stars also works great as a love story. The two leads share excellent chemistry so their romance is convincing and the movie doesn't try to artificially force conflicts on their relationship. So we don't have to waste too much time with them having a big falling out over nothing. Instead, we get to see their relationship grow, which makes the ending so much more tragic.
My only major problem with the film is the asshole author that Willem Defoe plays. For a movie that does all it can to feel real, the author character is so cliched. He's every angry, depressed, alcoholic writer we've ever seen. When the two leads visit him and he insults them and all cancer patients for having cancer, it just baffled me how unsubtle he was. I'm fine with the movie having his character ending up being a the angry and depressed writer, but they should have made him a subtle angry and depressed writer. Also, when he showed up at Gus's funeral, it could have meant something, but it didn't. I guess they just wanted him to return and apologize, but that's all he does. It was such a waste and comes out of nowhere.
Still, I love this movie. It wasn't perfect, but it was powerful. I actually got a little choked up at some scenes and I've never cried at a movie before. It's one of the saddest movies I've seen, but it doesn't use emotionally manipulative tricks. Instead, it gets us invested in the characters and tells a raw and compelling story. Lets see if the next John Green movie adaptation can be this good. I'll give The Fault in Our Stars an 8/10.