Cancer can be a tough subject to center on in a movie. It can be easy to get too melodramatic when focusing on the deadly disease. But in the new film The Fault in our Stars, starring the excellently cast Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, director Josh Boone manages to mostly avoid that trap.
The new romantic drama is based on the book by the same name, written by John Green. It centers on Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley), a teenager facing terminal lung cancer. She reluctantly agrees to attend a cancer survivors support group when her parents worry she's feeling depressed. That's where she meets the handsome and charismatic Augustus "Gus" Waters (Elgort), an impossibly charming teen whose cancer is in remission after having his leg amputated. The connection between the two is nearly instant and feels genuine for the most part.
The movie ditches the sappiness and zeroes in on the reality of the disease. The movie shows that it's OK to laugh in a scenario where our two leads lives are in serious danger. It manages to make you laugh without relying on dark humor.
As the two continue to connect, largely over a book written by reclusive author Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), their relationship continues to grow. Gus eventually uses his wish (similar to the Make a Wish foundation) to take Hazel to meet her idol, which doesn't go exactly as planned.
Woodley and Elgort both shine in the new movie, convincingly portraying the two star crossed lovers. Their connection works through most of the movie, although there are a few odd instances that feel a little forced. One in particular is when the two share a first kiss in Anne Frank's house while visiting Amsterdam. But overall, it feels sincere.
While most of the film does feel largely unsentimental, by the last half hour, Boone amps up the emotions, forcing tear ducts to flow. As when dealing with a disease as serious as cancer, you cannot expect a completely happy ending. Our characters have to deal with the bleak reality of the disease, but our main character learns to feel an emotion she never would have thought she could. While the film is not perfect, it is refreshing to be able to laugh along with the stars of this film, while also understanding the dire cost cancer brings.
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Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:45:17 GMT
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