Film Review: The Fault In Our Stars

28/10/2014 Reviews, TV and Film 4

Film Review: The Fault In Our StarsWarning: Spoilers.

As a general rule, I’m pretty sceptical about book to film adaptations: from previous experience, I very rarely like the film as much, and don’t think I’ve ever actually preferred a film. For that reason, I was a little dubious about watching the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, as I absolutely adore John Green’s novel! However, I have to say, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the film! I felt that it was in most cases, very nearly as good as the book (and that is high praise indeed!), and it felt very true to the spirit of the book.

For anyone who hasn’t read/watched The Fault in Our Stars, it tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a seventeen year old with terminal lung cancer who attends a support group and meets a cancer survivor called Augustus Waters (aka Gus). The two are instant friends (and later boyfriend and girlfriend), and bond over the unknown ending of Hazel’s favourite novel An Imperial Affliction. Needless to say, as a novel about cancer, it gets pretty weepy (both on page and on screen), so tissues are a requirement!

The film adaptation stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel and Augustus, and although I wasn’t so sure about this duo when I watched the trailers (especially Augustus!), their on screen chemistry turned out to be one of the best things about the film. Their relationship and instant friendship was believable, and the banter between them was funny, and kept the film from veering into a deep pit of sentimentality and soppiness. I think that the danger with films of this nature (love stories, illness etc.) is that it can easily become soppy to the point of being cringe-worthy. Whilst this is prevented in the book by John Green’s witty writing style, and development of two characters who despite their situations, want to live life to the full, I worried how well this would transfer onto screen, where John Green’s voice wouldn’t be heard. However, I don’t personally feel the film entered this corny, overly soppy territory, and whilst I did find myself shedding a tear or two (or hundreds!), it was in no way cheesy. Gus crying in the car as Hazel insists on calling the ambulance struck me as a particularly heart-breaking moment, and whilst it could have been a cheesy Hollywoord moment, the ugly reality of the situation (eg. excess snot) made it seem more real. Similarly Gus’ off-screen death wasn’t an overly dramatic ‘dying in his lover’s arms’ affair, and Hazel’s quiet reaction to it was heart-rending, and far more effective.

I also felt that some of the secondary roles were perfectly cast. Hazel’s parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammel) were as over-protective as you would expect with a daughter who has battled cancer for years, but also fun and a little quirky! Nat Wolff as Augustus’ blind friend Issac (one of my favourite characters in the book) was perfect, and Willem Dafoe was great as the misanthropic alcoholic writer Peter van Houten.

I also liked how true to the book the film was. Whilst there were small changes, there were no massive plot re-hauls, which is one of the main things that I hate about many book to film adaptations. I particularly liked the way they had incorporated Hazel telling the story, looping back to the opening scene of her lying on the grass at the end, meaning that despite the tragedy, it is almost like there is some kind of hope. I liked that for such a sad film, it ended on an uplifting note, which kind of reflected the optimism and humour of Hazel and Augustus throughout the book.

The Fault in Our Stars therefore has to be one of the very few book to film adaptations I have actually liked, and whilst I can’t give it a 5/5, as I still can’t say I enjoyed it as much as the book, it gets a definite 4/5. Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t already!

Rating: 4/5

4 Responses to “Film Review: The Fault In Our Stars”

  1. Carla Wynker

    The Fault In Our Stars seems to have been well adapted to the screen because you’re not the first person I came across who thought the movie was great. I haven’t watched the movie but I’d like to read the book. I’m still not sure if I’ll actually do it. I really enjoyed Looking For Alaska, also by John Green, so I know he’s a good writer. But The Fault In Our Stars seems like such a sad, bittersweet book, I’m not sure my little heart can take it, lol.

    By the way, I nominated you for the Autumn Tag, here’s a link to it:

    • Laura

      Thanks so much for the nomination! I will post my answers soon!
      And The Fault In Our Stars is definitely worth a read, although it is super sad, so be prepared to cry! Same if you watch the film. I loved Looking for Alaska as well, and although the characters are a bit less likeable than Hazel and Gus in The Fault In The Stars, I actually think I enjoyed the book more. Or maybe it’s just that it was the first John Green book i read, so it has a bit of a special place in my heart!

  2. Sarah LeBlanc

    My sister and I went opening night to see this – We left early, brought a ton of Kleenex and settled in knowing we were going to cry our hearts out.

    When we left the theatre, EVERYONE was crying. Every. Single. Person.

    And as soon as we left through the doors to leave where we were watching, they had the next batch of people ready to go in and they stared at us while we all ugly cried. It was awesome.

    • Laura

      That does sound awesome! My sister went to see it when it was in the cinema too and she said that pretty much everyone was crying by the end. I watched it with my friend though at her house, so thankfully only she witnessed me ugly cry!

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