The Fault in Our Stars: Another praising review. Sort of.
Every once in a while, a story captivates our hearts and reminds us how fortunate we are to be alive.
Judging by the lack of dry eyes and mascara stained cheeks in the audience, “The Fault in Our Stars” captivated the hearts of many young adults, some older audience members and some avid John Green fans, like myself. Though the story captured my heart as well, unfortunately, the dramatized presentation did not leave me drowning in a puddle of tears, as I expected it would. I’ll admit that there were several gut wrenching moments but not enough to send me into a wailing mess with the rest of the crowd, which was fine with me. Perhaps it’s my bias and affection for John Green’s work; I found the story itself to be flawless – fresh, romantic and sincere, but the movie did not completely fulfill my sky high expectations.
This is of course, one of the issues which constantly arises when it comes to the book/movie adaptations. From Twilight and the Hunger Games to Divergent, fans may often be disappointed in the big screen realizations of their favourite novels and it may be because of our inability to separate the two forms of art. Despite “the reader bias” that follows most fans of any kind of literature, no matter how desperately we try to shake it, the movie itself did a fantastic job of staying true to the story of Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). As the two teens struggle with their illnesses and try to live their numbered days out as fearlessly and as freely as they can, they remind us of the importance of making the best out of the short time that we have in this world with the people whom we love.
They also remind us that perhaps, it is not necessary to constantly strive for the world’s adoration and to chase the things we perceive as extraordinary, but to recognize the extraordinary in what we have already been blessed with in our everyday lives. Woodley and Elgort are convincing in their roles; without falling into the timeless stereotypes of the awkward and naïve, low self-esteemed ridden female lead and the charming bad boy with whom typically young women fall in love no matter how much of a jerk he is. Instead, Hazel Grace is strong, smart, and kind and honest without being portrayed as a “bitch.” While “Gus” Waters is charming, with a cheery and kind disposition, and a blunt honesty towards his affections for Hazel, without any manipulation or games involved. A relationship that is genuine and admirable, which is a breath of fresh air to say the least.
Despite their remarkable individual performances, it pains me to say that I found a lack of romantic chemistry present when they were brought together and more of a platonic relationship replacing it. The natural Rachel McAdams/ Ryan Gosling and Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone type of dynamic was lacking within their collaborative performance to really enliven the dialogue, characters and story. The type of interaction that makes the audience forget that they are watching a movie and immerses them completely. As sometimes, the dialogue of the book spoken out loud sounded slightly awkward in the way that it was presented and brought disenchantment to the scene.
What to make of these hardly faultless stars?
A surprising duo that did share this natural chemistry, in the filial sense, was Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern who played Hazel’s mother. Their dynamic was compelling and natural. They captured, heartbreakingly, the anxiety and obstacles that manifest when a loved one is sick, and the limitless love that a mother carries for her child, without exploitation or overdoing it. In fact, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on creating emphasis on this relationship, but its presence was constantly felt. Woodley’s emotional range is impressively vast here and beautifully captured, as her character is racked with the guilt over leaving the ones she loves behind. Dern’s equally impressive concern and love for her daughter never quite disappear from her facial expression, even when she tries to mask it.
The secret magic of the film worked on the foundation of moments. This film isn’t action packed; there are no sinking ships involved, no betrayal, no mystery or scandal, but the reason why the audience can’t take their eyes off the screen is because of the sincerity of these moments. After all, that is the premise of life itself. A series of moments; the most memorable and worthwhile ones being those that we share with the ones whom we love. Whether it was hanging out at Gus’s house, having dinner in Amsterdam or egging Isaac’s (Gus’s best friend) ex-girlfriend’s car, it is the charm of every day simple interactions that shine in this movie. It is their simple, but vital importance in the story of our lives, as well as theirs, that connects our hearts to Gus and Hazel’s story- to their characters and to their quotidianal moments.
There is no doubt about it, there is something for everyone in this movie and whether you blubber like a baby throughout the whole thing or not, it will definitely be a beautiful and inspiring film to see.