I realised that this review was coming way before I watched this movie. And I knew that it was inevitable. And I’m not going to make out this movie to sound any more than what it truly was. This is me giving my honest opinion.
A month or so ago I wrote that The Fault in Our Stars is my favourite romantic book. And I still attest to that.
Personally, watching The Fault in the Stars will be a moment I won’t forget. ‘Cause I watched it with two people I love, at a midnight screening, wearing a Make-a-Wish foundation shirt and a Captain America jacket. It was a perfect gathering, where our three separate lives just tied nicely together in a cosy cinema with a lovely audience (apart from the sparse twittering of adolescent girls sounding like squeaky toys for puppies). It was a spur of a moment decision. And watching the credits with the “stars”, listening to Ed Sheeran’s “All of the Stars” felt so perfect at 2am in the morning.
That being said, let me get into my review, I thought Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel Grace was as honest and sincere as she could have possibly made her out to be. There were a few exceptions of course, no film could be perfect: that moment she saw Augustus was not right for me, where she went into the bathroom to “mentally prepare herself” only to face the honest truth, that she can never be as beautiful as she wants herself to be with the tube through her nose – that scene suggested that she was immediately head over heels for him, that she’s been spending her entire life watching couples and wanting a boyfriend, and that, I don’t believe, is who Hazel Grace is, i.e. a teenage girl who would swoon over a guy.
And, I think that me writing about that was necessary. ‘Cause that’s what’s going to happen when you watch the movie after reading the book – and how I feel that I would of felt, as well, as a person who has not read the book and watched the movie, i.e. there are perfect moments in the movies, the offbeat moments when there is definitely “life” breathing through the story and, at the midst of it, and for me the reason why the film will never be that complete, there are also moments that seemed forced or rushed and that fail to quite capture how I imagined certain scenes to be.
And skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers, but that scene with Gus at the petrol (sorry, “gas”) station – I felt like it needed to be more pronounced. I had expected that scene to be the one scene that I felt the most heartbroken towards, but it disappointed me because it wasn’t. Did not shed a tear and was not really in the moment for that scene. Maybe I had built up expectations, and that’s why it let me down, but I felt Ansel Elgort could have acted it a lot better. But maybe I was expecting too much – ‘cause I paralleled that scene to the moment where Sam (Sean Penn) in I am Sam was asking for French pancakes like the ones at IHOP. I expected Ansel to be Sean Penn and Shailene to be Dakota Fanning in that moment. But that moment failed me.
Another moment that really didn’t sit too well with me, and here is another spoiler, so you might as well skip this paragraph too if you have yet to watch the movie, was when Gus confessed how much he loved Hazel in Oranjee. But this time, maybe it wasn’t the film’s fault. It’s probably just me.
I bet the younger female generation would have soaked up that moment with a fleet of shippings and canons. But, for me, it was a cringe-worthy moment I could do without – and does not help for those critics who pigeonhole this story as just a love story. Gus saying that he was in love with her and Hazel just smiling was forced. It was an unnecessary moment, especially when there were plenty of other scenes that already showed (without explicitly stating it) that they were falling in love.
One moment that didn’t fail me whatsoever, however, and again spoilers (I’m hoping this is the last paragraph you guys who have not watched the movie have to skip) was Hazel Grace’s eulogy for Gus. And I need to applaud Ansel Elgort’s acting in this scene, ‘cause I thought that it was him at his best in this part. You could see the pain in his eyes as he realised how much his death would affect Hazel and how he could do nothing about it. That moment was pretty perfect.
At the end of the day you need to take the entire movie as what it is and not over-analyse it. Is the movie overhyped? Of course it is. For a novel that is targeted towards teen girls, definitely that audience will overhype any of their books that will become a movie. So if you’re going to argue over whether this movie is overhyped, you’re basically battling the question of whether the sky is blue.
I could have definitely done without the hype, ‘cause honestly, this movie was a generally decent one. Apart from those few scenes I wanted to draw out, I will go no further but to say that, although the movie – as like all movies – will never be able to capture all the words of the novel it is based on, this movie stayed as faithful as it could to Green’s message and spirit.
So to recap, I agree that it is by no means perfect. Heck, I cringed at some parts and felt let down at some instances. I also agree that it lets on that one should cry and bawl your eyes out more than one probably will. You will probably shed a tear or two but you are definitely not meant to force tears so as to just demonstrate that you are human.
As a whole it is a lovely little movie that adds to the teen movie genre. It definitely tells more than a tale of cancer and love. It definitely seeks to explore more of what you can do in life when you are in that circumstance, how death may affect others. But do not expect it to be any more than what it just is. And do not belittle it as a profit-driven story of love. It sits nicely in the middle of all of that.
If I ever gave movies a scale, I would give it a 7.5/10 – I enjoyed it. For me, I preferred it more than It’s Kind of A Funny Story and A Walk to Remember – but I would still honestly watch Easy A. It’s probably the type of movie that you can watch in cinemas late at night with your friends. It is also a movie that would do very well watching it alone on a night in with maybe some comfort food. But when it comes to this story, I’d still rather own the book than the DVD.
– cumuloq ❤