Fine, I will admit when it comes to movies I don’t want to watch, I have a bit of a big mouth. There is no film in recent memory that I was so vehemently against quite like The Fault in Our Stars. It wasn’t without reason – young adult films are generally not very good, and when it is about a love story between cancer patients, it just doesn’t seem appealing. But after actually sitting down and watching it, it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought, but it was in no way the amazing film that everyone is losing themselves over.
First of all, the story is not a very exciting one. On the outset, you meet these characters who are in a cancer support group. Its quite obvious this isn’t going to end on a happy note. The chances of all the characters surviving until the end was very slim, and unfortunately, as I expected, it was filled with cliches and followed the exact some pattern these types of books and movies seem to enjoy using. Sprinkled lovingly with tautologies and movie cliches, The Fault in Our Stars is nothing that we haven’t seen before.
The one saving grace of this movie was Shailene Woodley. I was never a huge fan of her, but I found her to be superb here. She may not be the most exciting actress, but the role of Hazel Grace Lancaster requires a more sedate, quiet actress to fully convince us that she is this brave but tortured soul. Woodley alone makes this film worthwhile, and she has the unusual ability to elevate the film simply through her facial expressions and body language. Woodley gives everything to this role, and it pays off, as this may not become the defining role of her career, but will instead serve to become a springboard for Woodley to go onto better projects and have a great future as an actress.
As I said above, this film is really filled with pure sentimentality and cliche. The writing is very weak (perhaps accentuated by the constant presence of John Green, who may have tried to keep a hold on his material a bit too strongly) and verbosity becomes a huge problem – using big words doesn’t automatically make the character intelligent, and instead Augustus, suffering from the sadly underwhelming performance by the talented Ansel Elgort, becomes almost uunlikable and comes across less of a noble knight in shining armor that gives Hazel hope, but instead as an arrogant, elitist teenager who borders on exploiting his and Hazel’s condition. His death may be the saddest part of the film (and it even touched my cynical heart), but it wasn’t because we felt bad for Augustus, it was because we felt bad for Hazel for losing the love of her life. I hope Elgort gets to show his great talents in the near future, and while he is now pretty much a household name, he is going to need to work very hard to shake off the stigma of being Augustus, because he deserves better than this film portrayed the character to be.
I wouldn’t call this a bad film. I think at the surface, it is very mediocre and forgettable. But to leave it here would be inappropriate, because there were little nuances to the film that really elevated it. Woodley’s performance, some rare moments of humor and the design was incredible. However, that alone does not allow this to be considered a good film by any means. Maybe time will change my mind a little bit, but I do think that The Fault in Our Stars is painfully average and hardly attempts to make a mark on cinema. However, I do think they did the best with the material they were given, because the book is nothing special itself.
In conclusion, I will say The Fault in Our Stars is really average. It could’ve been a lot worse. But the fact that Shailene Woodley gave a star-making performance makes this a lot more enjoyable, and she alone is the reason I am giving this film somewhat of a positive score. It doesn’t change the fact that this is probably the cheesiest teen film in a while, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it is a pleasant enough experience to bear.