It is not difficult to understand that a grown-up could enjoy a kid’s film, so perhaps it’s high time we learned the same lesson about Young Adult fiction. They’re targeted towards a younger audience, yes, but works like John Green‘s The Fault In Our Stars is proof that even the genre that encompasses incompetent crap like Twilight can contain gems of literary genius and heart.
The film version, directed by Josh Boone, has been out for a while in the US and saw a Swedish release in the past couple weeks. If the reputation of the book isn’t enough to make people over here want to see it, then the hilariously stupid translation of the title might. In Sweden, The Fault In Our Stars is called Sooner Or Later I’ll Explode. I thought this was a movie about teen love and cancer, not secret agents with bombs implanted into their brains by Russians?
In any case, the film stars Shailene Woodley. She plays Hazel Grace, a teenaged girl who suffers from terminal cancer, but finds new meaning in her life after she meets a special boy from her support group who shares her love towards literature and her views on many other things in the world. His name is Augustus (Ansel Elgort); he’s short one leg and he starts off seeming somewhat clingy if you ask me. Fortunately he’s kind of cute so of course there’s no worries of him potentially coming off as a stalker.
In all seriousness, though, he’s also a pretty damn positive and lovable guy, and turns out to be exactly the kind of bloke you’d want around when times seem so tragic. The two start talking and soon fall in love, creating a love story to be remembered, even to YA non-fans like myself. Side-characters include Augustus’ blind friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), Hazel’s parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) and Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), the mysterious author of a book called An Imperial Affliction, the cryptic cliffhanger of which Hazel helps Augustus figure out. This book happens to be about a young girl’s struggles with cancer.
Shailene Woodley completely knocks it out of the park in this one. Wasn’t too impressed by her in Divergent and even less so in Amazing Spider-Man 2, mostly due to fact that her scenes in the latter were, y’know, deleted. But by now, I am convinced that she’s going to become a big name in Hollywood and, much like the great Jennifer Lawrence before her, a wonderful role model for the young women of today. Some young men too, possibly. Ansel Elgort is quite good too and like I said, he succesfully portrays a guy that one cannot help but like.
This is a good film; very good. Fans of the book seem to agree that Green’s writing has been done justice and that even the movie touches ones heart like few other stories would ever manage. Even so, some viewers take issue with this one scene that were shot inside the actual Anne Frank museum, believing that this is not the apt place to shoot a teen romance film. Well, from what I’ve heard, Anne Frank was very optimistic about the concept of love and something tells me she wouldn’t have minded. Also, the people who currently own the museum admire John Green’s work so it was pretty much they who insisted on it. Bottom line: way better than that time a certain idiot pop star went there, wouldn’t you say?
There is some obligatorily cheesy dialogue and there is a certain share of romance clichés here and there, but majority of it is executed in an effective and powerful way that endears and moves you more than your average teen drama normally would. The film is a tear-jerker but at the same time a thought-provoking heart-warmer. It is a wonder that such a sad story about a person condemned to such an unfair fate can create such an optimistic tone about life. Depending on how you look at things, at least.
I think you might want to see The Fault In Our Stars. You’ll enjoy it, and if you’re lucky enough to attend a not very populated screening where there aren’t any excitable tweens that do their best fire alarm impressions whenever something vaguely cute happens, you’ll enjoy it even more! Okay? Okay.