In continuing with no-franchise month, I turned my eyes to a genre I rarely tread: Romantic Comedy-Drama. And there was only one film of this genre that I had my eyes on: The Fault in our stars. Call it serendipity or subconscious planning, this film is one I actually planned to watch long before I made the decision to have a gimmick this month.
It is a special film to me for three reasons. Firstly, it is the first RCD film I have watched in two years. Secondly, it marks the first time I have read a book before watching the film it was based on. Thirdly, it is the first time where I actually know the author of the book (John Green) before I read it!
Well, 'know' is a bit of an overstatement. What I mean is I have been subscribed to his Youtube channel since before the book was published, and you should too! He and his brother both do great works in running a DOZEN education channels. I really don't know how they have the time to make so many videos and still squeeze in writing a few best-seller books. This is why when this film was announced, I was sure to mark it in my movie calendar. I even bought the paperback book (instead of kindle-ing it), something I have not done for fiction novels since Lord of the Rings (though I have bought my sister a hard copy of The Hunger Games for her birthday).
So I think before I talk about the film it might be worthwhile to say what I thought of the book. In a word; honest. It was a story that was piercing because of the subject matter and was brutally honest with its portrayal of teenagers dealing with a terminal illness. It had sincerity, it was gripping and didn't shy away from the consequences of the character's choices or reality. It was a tragedy for everyone except the characters, who somehow knew how to lived more than those around them. It was both an easy and uneasy read, but satisfying in both cases.
Now that I've talked about the book, onto the film.
The Fault In Our Stars (or TFIOS, as the book fans prefer) is in many ways a faithful adaptation of the book. Every key story point, important dialogue and important aspects of the book made its way into this film. I think the casting choices Ansel Elgort for Augustus was not how I pictured him, but he did a good job. Shailene Woodley delivers a powerhouse performance and even though at some points she is victim to occasional awkward comedy and can-be-off-putting characters around the lovers, the love story itself more than salvages an otherwise difficult to watch film. It is just so hard to not like their relationship and be broken on some level by the realization of how it has to end.
The music was 'okay', but one of the weaker points of this film (just my opinion though). There were probably a few too many sung songs; it felt deliberate and made the film feel crowded at times. I would have preferred to have a lyric-less motif that followed the main couple, but maybe I've just watched too much superhero movies which benefit from the use of musical motif the most. Having said that the songs chosen did help the film emanate a rush of melancholy, hope and courage in the crucial scenes.
Overall, TFIOS pushes the envelope on how young people should embrace life and love in the face of death some day. It is both a modern and timeless adaptation that, while taking less risk than its titular character does, remains faithful to the philosophy of its source material. Despite the story's focus on cancer and death, it is to me one of the healthiest Hollywood film that have come out this year, giving not only a positive message but also a brave outlook on circumstances that can be so destroying. It is a grenade that you allow yourself to be hurt by. Because of this, I highly recommend both the book and the film, though I'd say there's no need to watch it at the theaters.
8.0 / 10.0