The Fault In Our Stars
Disclaimer: I read the book about 3 - 4 months before watching the movie, and it made me cry. Despite all its cliché-ness and predictability (other than who dies first...but you know someone is going to die), the tears just kept flowing. Kudos to John Green for capturing the emotions of first love, love and lost, and putting them into words.
A cheesy, romantic film that unabashedly tugs at the heartstrings and milk the tear ducts, but despite its 125 minutes duration, it still falls short of the emotional impact and heave that John Green's novel had. Shailene Woodley anchored the film beautifully and she is the real reason to catch this (other than for the book itself).
Director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber compacted the storyline to focus only on Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. Everybody else, except Mrs. Lancaster, became periphery. As such, the focus was more on the romance rather than the Romance (with a capital R).
However, a positive and unexpected outcome of this treatment of the novel was that the relationship between Hazel and her mum felt more authentic then that between Hazel and Gus. We do not really see the ups and downs of Hazel and Gus' relationship, so the emotional impact of the ending was not as powerful as depicted by Green.
Shailene Woodley was spot on as Hazel. The smart alecky girl that is pretty but not in a conventional way. Her line deliveries carried the sarcasm and wit one would expect of her character, as does the way her face just lights up genuinely as she fell in love. Woodley came onto the scene almost at the same time as Jennifer Lawrence and they both got noticed straightaway, but Lawrence is now America's newest sweetheart whereas Woodley is playing catch-up. But, watch out for her.
Ansel Elgort as Augustus was sadly, not the right fit for Woodley. They had their moments of chemistry, and Elgort also had his moments, but he was not consistent. Too often he fell flat, and ended up being smug rather than endearingly goofy. Although he did displayed more talent towards comedy than drama.
Laura Dern was great as Mrs Lancaster, and her chemistry with Woodley was simply the best thing about the movie. That felt real and genuine. Perhaps it arose from her stint on HBO's Enlightened.
The soundtrack was a highlight too if that is any consolation.