The Fault in Our Stars ★★★½

Review In A Nutshell:

The film that swept the minds and hearts of youth of 2014, based on a novel by John Green that has done similarly so two years before the film. I was sceptical with the film due to its young adult attributes and large hype, but the film was able to meet at least half of its expectations.

The film revolves around Hazel Grace, a cancer survivor who takes maintenance medications, regularly checks up with her physicians, and attends a support group at a local church. It is during one of her attendance that she meets a young and optimistic individual, and from there a relationship builds. The film spends its first forty minutes building the relationship of its two central leads, featuring constant banter that would flesh out aspects of their personality; exploring what makes them who they are. I was pleasantly surprised on how likeable these characters actually were, despite multiple instances of "profound" and emotional dialogue which felt a bit forced during particular spots. It was in the aspirations of both of these characters that the film found its primary drive; their shared passion for a novel and their wish to meet the author in Amsterdam, in which Hazel hopes to find answers.

Amsterdam was the film's emotional high and low point, showing their relationship at its peak but also a glimpse of what would come in their futures. It was also in this part of the film where I wanted the story to be resolved, as it would have left an ambiguous atmosphere that would have left me in both emotional and intellectual contemplation; but in doing this, it would be a betrayal to the source material, leaving fans with torches and pitchforks striking under the buttocks of Josh Boone. It was the scene involving the central characters sitting on a bench that, along with some conclusive tweaking, would have been the perfect end for the film; showing characters at their most heartfelt, sitting on the fence between the best and worst of their relationship. If there was one aspect of Amsterdam that I resented, it would be the final moment in the Anne Frank's house, where tones of intense sentimentality and actions that were overbearingly clichéd; like it was suffocating me.

It was after Amsterdam that the film started to dip in quality; reaching areas of emotions and moments that never felt earned. I was able to predict how the film was going to end for both the story and the characters. It was also during this that I started to become highly aware of its change of pace and stretching length of its running time; did this film's theatrical cut really needed to be two hours long? This should have been a story that wrapped itself up twenty minutes before its actual ending.

Shailene Woodley, I have seen and heard by many, to be the shining element of the film, but sadly I would have to disagree. The performance she brought was far from what the brilliance that was found in her other films like The Spectacular Now and The Descendants. In this film, she attempts to keep her character grounded and subtle, but I felt she went a little too intense with it, lacking that extra flavour that would have made her an interesting figure to follow, not to mention a more balanced equal to her co-star Ansel Elgort. Elgort was surprisingly great in this, coming off as charming, carrying many of the scenes that the pair shared together. During the bench scene in Amsterdam, Elgort played his role perfectly, not breaking the essence of the character to simply manipulate the emotions of its audience. The shining quality from its cast was Laura Dern, who plays the mother of Hazel. Dern allows the role to feel multi-dimensional, with subtlety in the way she reacts to certain situations that speak immense volume about its character. This would have been a character that would have explored interesting dynamics of the relationship she was with her daughter, but in doing so would have deviated too far from the expectations of its target audience.

The Fault in Our Stars is a romantic-drama film that overall felt safe, with multiple aspects of its production coming off as hot and cold. Somewhere inside me wanted to believe that this would be the modern parallel for When Harry Met Sally, in terms of how much it would leave a mark on me.

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