It’s nice to take a break from the explosions and gunfire of the Summer movie season and see a film that relies solely on characters and dialogue to entertain. Here we have The Fault in Our Stars, a drama about a young lady dying of cancer. Fits right in with the popcorn flicks quite beautifully doesn’t it? The performances are excellent as well as the film’s emotional element, but the script from the writers of 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now has its problems.
When Hazel, a cancer-stricken young lady, listens to her mother’s pleas and joins a cancer support group, she meets Gus, a prosthetic leg-stricken young man. The two hit it off very quickly, and might have just found some joy in their unfortunate lives.
If you somehow can’t tell from that plot synopsis, this is a sappy movie. While cute and well-written, the constant “awwwwww” moments come too frequently. Yes, I do have a heart and I acknowledge that this is a romance movie above anything else, but the film’s sappy charm loses its charm after the 10th time in the past five minutes.
There are some other moments in the film where the sappiness just didn’t work. Some scenes that were trying to go for light-hearted humor came off a teeny bit awkward while other scenes just flat-out didn’t work. But believe me when I say that most of this script works incredibly well.
When the humor doesn’t come off inappropriate or awkward, it’s a joy. Hazel isn’t the happiest girl who has an understandably extremely negative look on life. The film has a brilliant sense of humor with this, and it wonderfully breaks up the dramatic and emotional elements here.
I gladly admit when I cry at movies (when Sam picks up Frodo’s practically lifeless body and trudges up Mount Doom how do you not shed a tear you heartless psychopath?), and I did not cry here. But I have never heard so many people in an audience sniffle and moan like this. The emotion in this movie works unbelievably well. I got the feels on multiple occasions when I rarely get them at all. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker and you’re not a heartless douche like me, take some extra napkins into the theater with you.
The performances in this movie are absolutely outstanding across the board. The american teenager with a secret life gives her finest performance here as Hazel. Shailene Woodley nails the humor and raw emotion of her character, and I guarantee you she will come up in Oscar discussions. Another standout is Ansel Elgort as Gus, who pulled off the character’s wit and class so well it makes me want to date him. Here’s hoping we see more of this guy.
There are faults in this star, but the two leads along with a mostly solid script make for a Summer movie that could easily pass off for one of the Fall award show contenders.