Boys do cry. That’s for sure. Especially, if they watch THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I was expecting a melodramatic cheese-fest out of this so-called “chick flick”. Man, was I wrong.
Right off the bat, this movie lets you know it’s not anything like Hollywood’s sappy romance crap. It’s brilliant really. The opening shows how this entire movie would play out if it was your typical fluff – but it’s not. So after a few minutes of montage we crash to reality. This movie has heart, but it beats with cynicism.
This movie doesn’t bleed syrup, it just bleeds. A slow bleed that you see coming the whole way. The twist doesn’t matter here. It’s the idea that these two find each other and fall in love. The first love for either of them. And they’re both cancer survivors. The possibility of this disease returning lurks around every corner – every dream.
SHAILENE WOODLEY really impressed me in her previous film THE SPECTACULAR NOW. I expected her to be good here. She was phenomenal. Woodley is stunning as the lead character, Hazel. Natural. Real. She knows life isn’t fair and it pisses her off. She’s depressed, isolated, alone. Until she meets Han Solo a.k.a. Gus played by ANSEL ELGORT, a wise-cracking jerk who hides his heart within his too-cool leather jacket.
Normally, movie romances are so telegraphed I can’t enjoy them. I know what’s going to happen. Every step of the way. Like painting by numbers. With STARS that’s, thankfully, not the case.
While FAULT has its faults, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. For the entire runtime, I was there. I laughed. I cried. I cried again. This movie was relentless. It did not sugar-coat mortality, it bore its thorns. Two stand-out scenes were the live eulogy, and Anne Frank’s house. There’s nothing to be said, but there’s so much to absorb – those scenes shook me.
For me, Elgort was a revelation here. I’m aware his performance grated some viewers, but I loved the guy. I want to hang out in his basement and break his trophies. There was one moment that sealed the deal. Crying in the car. He hated that he needed help. He hated himself. His explosive emotions were perfectly transmuted into mine. Amazing stuff. He balanced charisma, with humour, and pure emotion.
The smaller roles are also strong. LAURA DERN as Hazel’s mother was fantastic. You really understand her position and are extremely empathetic to her plight. NAT WOLFF plays Gus’s blind friend. His arc was great and his character added some much needed humour. Just when you think this movie is going for the cheese, like extra strong cheddar, they pull the rug out from under you. I’m thinking of the appearance by WILLEM DAFOE, playing Woodley’s idol. I won’t ruin what happens here, but it parallels life. Life is promised to us all, then we realize it ends. Our hopes are dashed, just like meeting an idol who turns out to be an a**hole. Our dreams are shattered. This is life.
Watching FAULT won’t totally depress you. Hopefully, it will grab your attention and make you reconsider your life. Take it by the reins. There is optimism behind the tears. The fault of OUR stars is they shine bright and then they fade – they’re dying since their born. Or conversely, they shine bright against the void. They are something from nothing. The miracle is existence.
Boys do cry. And I’m glad I did. This movie really surprised me, at a time where I nearly dismiss all young-adult love stories. With FAULT, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Don’t share this fault. If you are hesitant about watching this movie, change your mind. Watch it. Don’t let this emotional piece of art (life) SLIP/THROUGH your movie-loving hands.
What do you think? Was FAULT way over-hyped? Did the film ruin the book?