|THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (director: Josh Boone; screenwriters: Scott Neustadter/Michael H. Weber/based on the novel by John Green; cinematographer: Ben Richardson; editor: Robb Sullivan; music: Mike Mogis/Nathaniel Walcott; cast: Shailene Woodley (Hazel Grace Lancaster), Ansel Elgort (Augustus Waters), Laura Dern (Frannie), Sam Trammell (Michael), Nat Wolff (Isaac), Willem Dafoe (Peter Van Houten), Lotte Verbeek (Lidewij), Mike Birbiglia (Patrick); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Wyck Godfrey/Marty Bowen; 20th Century Fox; 2014)|
|"Turned out far better than do
most such tearjerkers."
by Dennis Schwartz
director Josh Boone ("Stuck in Love")
does a decent job with this inspirational disease
survival melodrama, he missteps when he lets it go on
for too long, adds unneeded contrivances, and makes it
too manipulative. The result is that it becomes too
genre predictable and reverts from its unsentimental
dialogue to a highly emotional corny conclusion.
Nevertheless, a Hollywood film about teenagers
battling cancer and swept up in a doomed love affair,
not my idea of entertainment, still turned out far
better than do most such tearjerkers. It's based
on the bestselling novel by John Green,
and is smartly written by Scott
Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
story is set in an unnamed small town in Indiana,
where at a support group for teenage cancer patients the sassy 16-year-old Hazel
(Shailene Woodley) and the charismatic 18-year-old
Gus (Ansel Elgort) meet and fall in love at first
sight. Hazel has bad lungs due to a stage 4 cancer
and is always with an oxygen tank, while the former
high school basketball player Gus has a prosthetic leg due to
cancer. Gus wants love from everyone
and wants to be remembered by many when he departs,
while Hazel is okay with leaving things to fate.
Hazel is the more gifted in literary things than the
pleasant jock, but they both display a pungent wit
and make a believable love connection.
The highlight of the film,
taking us away from the suffering teenagers daily
highs and lows, is a Make A Wish sponsored trip to
Amsterdam to meet Hazel's favorite author Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe),
by Hazel’s warm mom (Laura Dern). The
youngsters go sightseeing in the beautiful city,
take a supposedly meaningful visit to Ann Frank's
house (it shamelessly tries to tie cancer and the
Holocaust together), has the virgins cutely
experience first love and also has them find
disappointment in meeting the alcoholic author who
unbelievably acts cruel to his admiring guests.
To its credit, the film
successfully combines reality with fantasy, as it
elicits its main message without becoming too
mushy---that finding love, even in painful
circumstances, makes life more bearable. I give it a
pass simply because it has a light touch, was
watchable, the teen lovers gave winning performances
and it avoids being maudlin by a narrow margin.
REVIEWED ON 6/7/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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