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Faultless – A review of The Fault in Our Stars
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Production Company: Fox 2000 Pictures
Run Time: 125 minutes
Director: Josh Boone
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Willem DaFoe
Summary: Two teens who meet in a cancer support group fall in love and do their best to pursue a relationship even though both know that they may not live much longer. A real tear jerker but inspires courage as well.
Imagine for a moment that Romeo and Juliet didn’t have bad families but rather some incurable disease. The resulting story might have looked remarkably similar to this one.
The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of two young people, both stricken with nasty forms of cancer, who meet in a support group for teens with life threatening diseases.
From the moment their eyes meet, there’s an instant connection. And while one might think that parents of kids with cancer might tend to be overly protective of their children and keep them from forming new relationships, this story takes the more mature approach and the parents actually encourage the friendship.
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is 16 years old and has had a condition that weakens her lungs for half of her life. She will always have difficulty breathing and must carry an oxygen tank with her wherever she goes.
Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) is 17 and was a star athlete in school until cancer cost him his right leg. He lives now with a prosthetic limb and his cancer is in remission.
Hazel Grace has found a book that gives her hope and inspires her imagination that life will go on even after she is gone. It’s a morbid fascination that occupies her every waking thought until Gus comes into her life.
She gives him the book to read and he in turn gives her an action novel. It may not sound like a fair exchange, but for each of them, it gives insight into the other’s personality.
Gus is motivated by the story just as Hazel Grace was to find the continuation of the tale. It turns out that the book’s author is an American recluse who moved to Europe to escape the publicity. He hasn’t written anything since.
He never responds to Hazel’s letters, but he does respond to Gus’s e-mails. This raises both of their curiosities to find out what happened after the novel ends.
An ill-advised trip to Europe is planned, arranged in part by the author (Willem DaFoe) and assuming that the trip occurs, would become one of the most significant experiences in their lives.
Life is never fair, however, and nothing quite goes as planned. I won’t spoil any of this part of the movie for you. What follows must be experienced. All I can say is this: Bring plenty of tissues.
The Fault in Our Stars is not a typical teen romance. It brings hope and anticipation to life despite overwhelmingly negative odds. The innocence and youth of the two teens is quickly replaced by a wisdom and maturity that many seldom achieve until middle age.
But it’s easy to understand why. Middle age, as we know it, isn’t likely to occur for these two. But the film doesn’t take an easy way out and not everything happens in the way one would expect.
There is no magic here. No vampires or shape shifters. No evil monsters lurk in the shadows. The real antagonist of this story is the cancer that is slowly killing our two heroes.
They face it with courage and a spirit that eludes many folks far older than they are. And that’s a bravery that few other action movies can match.
Woodley and Elgort are well cast for these roles. I was initially amused at the casting since both stars appeared together as brother and sister in the film Divergent. Sort of lent itself to the “Ewww” factor.
But here, the actors have both successfully transformed their appearances so that the comparison isn’t a distraction. Woodley has shorn Tris’ trademark long flowing hair and Elgort has shed the squeaky clean pressed suit of Erudite for a more traditional teen wardrobe that easily suits his character.
Laura Dern evokes just the right combination of doting and permissiveness that one would expect from the mother of a dying teenager.
Nat Wolff co-stars as another teen who is destined to lose his sight as a result of cancer. Yet even without his eyes, he sees more clearly than most and adds a lot of mirth to the tale.
DaFoe may seem clichéd with his ascerbic character, but even he lends a surprise or two to the outcome of the story.
This isn’t your typical teen tearjerker and can’t be easily dismissed. For a change, kids get to teach adults a thing or two about true bravery. I give The Fault in Our Stars 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.