The Fault in Our Stars (2014): One Sick Love Story

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Drama, Romance

fault-our-stars-movie-posterHaving contracted cancer at a young age, Hazel feels strong disdain for the state of her life. She has not given up on living but only continues to maintain her activities for the sake of her parents. When attending her cancer support group meeting one day, she runs into Gus, a cancer survivor who lost his leg in the fight. While she notices him, Gus is completely infatuated with getting to know her. The two start a friendship that begins to challenge Hazel to change her attitude toward her situation. They share in the words of her favorite author, so Gus finds a way to use his “dying wish” to fly them to Amsterdam to meet him. Before they can take a trip, a tragedy occurs that almost prevents them from living her dream. The journey pushes their romance to the limit, as Hazel continues to try to keep enough distance from Gus to prevent them from falling in love with each other. As their relationship skyrockets, their star-crossed dreams seem ripe for tragedy to befall their love.

Starring: Shailene Woodley (Hazel), Ansel Elgort (Gus), Nat Wolff (Isaac), Laura Dern (Frannie), Sam Trammell (Michael), Willem Dafoe (Van Houten), Lotte Verbeek (Lidewij), Ana Dela Cruz (Dr. Maria), Randy Kovitz (Dr. Simmons), David Whalen (Gus’s Dad), Milica Govich (Gus’s Mom)

Teenage romance can be a tough genre to produce exceptional acting, but this film broke that mold. Woodley’s complex representation of a cancer patient produced an immediate connection with her plight and with the romance as she succumbed to the allure of her energetic, positive admirer. Throughout the film, her heavy breathing and challenges with physical activity made her believable as suffering through her character’s medical challenges. Elgort is similarly impressive in his strong positivity, but loses just a little momentum toward the end of the film (even though the vulnerability was very impressive). Dafoe was a surprise as well, though his character can be a little tough to stomach from his first appearance.

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Adapting John Green’s successful novel, this film quickly entraps its viewers in the roller coaster ride of its leading, star-crossed lovers. Hazel’s cancer was a significant crutch in her life, even with the love and support of her parents and her support group. She had been lucky to be alive after falling deathly ill and nearly succumbing to the cancer. Her chance meeting with Gus was fate and the push she needed to find a reason to live again. Having spent so much time reading and re-reading the same book by Van Houten, Gus was a breath of fresh air in her sullen existence. While she continued to be afraid of letting him get too close, she eventually let him into her heart, as Gus continuously surprised her with gifts. Their trip to Amsterdam solidified that love, even with the disappointment with their original intention for making the trip. Unfortunately, Gus’s news at the end of the trip significantly changed their commitment, as cancer once again put a strain on how much longer they had together.

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Although the cancer survival and the love between the two protagonists are the foci of the story, the metaphor of the frailty of life and the meaning of choice are just a prevalent. Hazel is introduced as making the choice to lack hope for her future. Sucked into a book that she described as the only thing that seemed to understand her plight, she was choosing to hide in the text to avoid the idea of disappointment. Gus’s relentless positivity and desire to be with her made Hazel uncomfortable, as it forced her to think about an actual future while struggling with an inevitable death from an unpredictable illness. She continued to keep him at a distance, comparing herself to grenade that will devastate everything in its blast radius. While they spend some unforgettable days in Amsterdam, it was not until Gus befell a relapse that Hazel let herself say the words “I love you.” The entire film gave the impression that Hazel was the one to eventually fall to her cancer, but her love for Gus left her vulnerable to suffering a different sort of fate, heartbroken by outlasting her true love.

This film is near perfect in its ability to enhance the concept of a teen drama/love story while giving a voice to the experience cancer patients/survivors and their loved ones. It is near impossible to walk away from this one with dry eyes, but that is what makes it great!

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5


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