Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Review: 'The Fault in Our Stars' Starring Shailene Woodley And Ansel Elgort

The Playlist By Kimber Myers | The Playlist June 4, 2014 at 10:05AM

You should probably not see "The Fault in Our Stars" with anyone you're trying to impress. You'll either end up a puffy, sniffling mess of tears, or you'll finish the movie dry-eyed and convince that person you're a psychopath. Those are the only two options. This drama is an outstanding entry in its sub-genre, sadly dominated to date largely by films like "Love Story" and Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Based on John Green's young adult novel, "The Fault in Our Stars" manages to transcend those films with solid direction from Josh Boone ("Stuck in Love"), a spot-on script from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ("The Spectacular Now"), near-perfect casting, deftly created characters and often hilarious dialogue that feels closer to vintage Cameron Crowe than Sparks.
4
The Fault in Our Stars

You should probably not see "The Fault in Our Stars" with anyone you're trying to impress. You'll either end up a puffy, sniffling mess of tears, or you'll finish the movie dry-eyed and convince that person you're a psychopath. Those are the only two options. This drama is an outstanding entry in its sub-genre, sadly dominated to date largely by films like "Love Story" and Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Based on John Green's young adult novel, "The Fault in Our Stars" manages to transcend those films with solid direction from Josh Boone ("Stuck in Love"), a spot-on script from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ("The Spectacular Now"), near-perfect casting, deftly created characters and often hilarious dialogue that feels closer to vintage Cameron Crowe than Sparks. 

Fault in Our Stars

But "The Fault in Our Stars" isn't just a cry-a-minute film for teens looking for an emotional connection beyond SnapChat, and early on, 17-year-old heroine Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) shares that her story isn't like "Say Anything" either. She meets the love of her young life, but it isn't a typical meet-cute, and it also isn't your standard story of illness on screen. Instead, Hazel has been forced by her mother (an absolutely wonderful Laura Dern) to attend a support group for kids struggling with cancer, and amidst the platitudes and inspirational stories, she meets 18-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). They immediately appreciate each other's not-always-sunny approach to living with illness. Hazel has thryroid cancer, which has now taken up residence in her lungs, causing her to wheel a cannister of oxygen with her wherever she goes. Gus is in remission from osteosarcoma, but the cancer took the former athlete's leg. Gus falls fast and hard for Hazel, while she insists on remaining friends to keep from causing anyone else pain with what she sees as her inevitably unhappy ending.

The two bond over their atypical outlook on their illness, as well as around Hazel's favorite book, "An Imperial Affliction." And we admire Green's heroine for her wit and intelligence just as Gus does. It shouldn't feel revolutionary to have a young female character with a brain in a film like this, but Hazel is refreshing, even though her exchanges with Gus sometimes feel a little too scripted and witty to feel realistic. Fans of the book should be happy with how closely the adaptation hews to Green's original story. There are small changes and edits that streamline the narrative, but the book's heart beats strongly on screen. With their previous scripts for "The Spectacular Now" and "(500) Days of Summer," Neustadter and Weber offered atypical looks at young romance, and "The Fault in Our Stars" fits well with that, telling a non-standard love story that is bolstered by strong characters. 

The Fault In Our Stars
Photo credit: James Bridges. Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff and Shailene Woodley in "The Fault In Our Stars"

Those characters are in turn served well by their casting. Woodley is becoming one of the go-tos for the atypical heroine, and you'll get no complaints from us. She captures Hazel's strength and weakness equally well, playing a complicated, imperfect character who is captivating. We were also charmed by Elsort's Gus; if his lines were said by another, less talented actor, we might have rolled our eyes more than sighed, but that wasn't the case. Along with Dern's heartbreaking efforts as Hazel's mother, "True Blood" star Sam Trammel holds his own as Hazel's father. He is given a little less to do than Dern, but it's interesting to see what he does when he's not surrounded by vampires and werewolves—and we like it. As Hazel and Gus's only ally at support group, Nat Wolff ("Palo Alto") is witty and winning, earning all the more praise for communicating emotion clearly while wearing sunglasses throughout the film due to his character's eye cancer. Comedian and actor Mike Birbiglia makes an all-too-brief, but pitch perfect appearance as the support group's leader, Patrick.

"The Fault in Our Stars" wins points for being more complex and stylish than most similar films feel they need to be. Most movies with this target audience are maudlin and manipulative, but Boone's film never feels like it's trying too hard to win our tears—or our laughter. It's most comparable to Jonathan Levine's "50/50" in this way; it will leave you feeling like you've been punched in the gut, but it acknowledges that there can be humor even in the worst situations. There are also some nice stylistic flourishes, particularly around Hazel and Gus's texts that make the film feel of the moment, while not being tied to any particular year (or operating system). It's an above-average entry into the genre, broadening its appeal beyond just teenagers, fans of the original novel and those who love a good cry. That said, don't say we didn't warn you; make your grandmother proud and stuff your pockets with tissues before you see this. [B+]

This article is related to: The Fault in Our Stars, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Mike Birbiglia, Ansel Elgort, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates