Review: The Fault In Our Stars (film)

The Fault In Our Stars ©2014 Twentieth Century Fox
Based on the 2012 novel by John Green
Genre: teen romance, mortality; young adult
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Director: Josh Boone
Running Time: two hours
Producers: Wyck Godrey p.g.a, Marty Bowen p.g.a
Exec. Producers: Michele Imperato Stabile, Isaac Klausner
Director of Photography: Ben Richardson
Film Editor: Rob Sullivan
Music: Mike Mogis, Nathaniel Wolcott
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern (Frannie, H.’s mother), Sam Trammell (Michael, H.’s father), Nat Wolff, Wilem Dafoe, Mike Birbiglia (Patrick, group head), and Lotte Verbeek

The producers would like to thank the Anne Franke House, the Pittsburg University Medical Center (UPMC), and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

The Diary of a Young Girl, is courtesy, Random House: Original Material; controlled by The Anne Franke Fonds

Synopsis

Hazel Grace (Woodley), a 16-year-old college student with metastasized cancer, is reluctant to attend cancer support group.  But there, she befriends Augustus Waters (Elgort), a boy two years her senior.  He attempts to bring her out of her terminal illness mentality, while Isaac (Wolff) deals with his breakup with a girlfriend that echoed but failed to promise the “Always,” to Always love each other.  (Aah, kids.)

Hazel still wants to know what happened to the characters for An Imperial Affliction, her favorite book and a work terminated mid-sentence, so Gus tries and manages to contact its author, Peter Van Houten (Dafoe), through his assistant, Lidewij (Verbeek).

Not take her illness well, Hazel considers herself a “grenade”—someone who can ‘only hurt the ones around her’ if she were to open and build relationship(s), but Gus convinces her otherwise.  As result, he shows her a new world, a new love, enough that she eventually cries at his eulogy rehearsal—one he attends.

Take

Neustadter and Weber manage to bring the story to the screen almost word-for-word.  Unfortunately, the screenplay’s rendering (directing), for “accessibility,” made much of the film cute and unconvincing, and unintentionally funny in one scene.  There were critical moments left soft and safe, as opposed to real and consequential.  An episode of House is more convincing than the cancer elements in this film.  And while the screenplay left alone most of the plot and dialogue (the as-is dialogue was in need of improvement), everything else lacked boldness; nothing else stood out.

As far as the acting goes, the whole film, taken from the novel in first-person POV, in its entirety rested on Woodley (who cried rather well).  And for some of the film, Isaac (Wolff) stood out where others probably should have.  Elgort’s acting was one of the worst parts of the film; he brought to life a theatrical reading of lines, fun but understated but unreal.  He appeared, perhaps, cocky when he should’ve appeared something of an ordinary teen.

For time compression (and safety), Van Houten’s scenes were reduced in count and time, and the story toward the end was altered significantly: instead of Hazel searching for a piece of paper that Gus had written, Van Houten gave it directly to her; there was no scene where Lidewij ran out on Van Houten; there was no time for clarification on Van Houten’s part as to why he wrote and failed to finish An Imperial Affliction; reasoning was thrown out somewhere.  And, needless to say, Dafoe wasn’t the fat slob of a drunk described in the book, just a drunk that didn’t even appear drunk in the movie!

Fortunately, the critical “some infinities are larger than other infinities” message was left in, as well as the “virgins with one leg” diagrams, and Van Houten in the side mirror taking a swig from his alcoholic’s canteen, as Hazel drove away.

What I got out of the novel was bittersweet; what I got out of the film was easy—too easy to watch.  While it sufficiently captured the plot, it had nothing else to offer.  Worse, it put too much focus on its often-simplified characters, and as result removed much of the book’s implicit atmosphere; we didn’t even get to see out of the window of the plane!

Everything was pronounced; there was no time to explore.  So many opportunities to make a better movie were overlooked and lost.  There may be a fan base, but I am certainly not a fan of this straight-forward but lackluster adaptation.  Without being too harsh, this movie failed to surpass expectations.  Grade: B+

Advertisements

Thoughts? Reply:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s