Friday, June 27, 2014

Dying Love

The Fault in Our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe
Released: June 6, 2014
Viewed in theaters: June 15, 2014

I read the young adult novel this movie is based on a little over a year ago. I had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly at the time and they kept raving about this book (which was written by John Green and was published in 2012), so finally, after I acquired a Barnes and Noble gift certificate, decided to buy the book to see what the fuss was about. I really liked it. Honestly, if I had never read the book, I probably would have never seen the movie, especially not in the theater. The movie follows the book pretty faithfully and since I only read the book a year and a half ago, I remembered a lot of what happens.

If you have not read the book, it's the story of a sixteen-year-old girl, Hazel, who has been living with lung cancer since she was 13 and her parents and doctor think a support group would be good for her since she's more on the mopey negative side with sarcastic quips about how short her life is going to be. At this support group, which she thinks is lame, she meets Gus, who had bone cancer and had a leg amputated because of it. They have a pretty serious relationship for such young ages, but this isn't at all like Twilight where the "romance" is contrived. They don't fall in love within ten minutes and while there is attraction, it's not the only reason they like each other as is the case in Twilight where Bella has to remind the reader every other page how hot Edward is. (Seriously, have you read the books? I am not lying!) Hazel and Gus actually, you know, build a relationship and aren't in love with each other by page ten. 

The two main leads are played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. I have been well aware of Shailene Woodley for about ten years where I barely remember her from playing Marissa Cooper's younger sister (the first one!) on The O.C. and she played Felicity, from the American Girl Collection, in a TV movie. (Which I totally watched because I owned Felicity!) I never watched Shailene's show on the Family Channel and was only reminded that she existed a few years ago when she was in The Descendants. With this movie and Divergent, she's sort of been put in the spotlight. Now, Ansel Elgort, I have never heard of him and had no idea who he was. Apparently he was also in Divergent and plays Shailene's brother! And then they make out in The Fault in Our Stars! If that's not weird, I don't know what is! I'm glad I didn't see Divergent because that would have just weirded me out. Even knowing this information weirded me out a little.

So it's easy to see why Hazel falls for Gus because he is, for real, like the most perfect guy in the world. He's probably a little too perfect. I'm sorry, but no guy, especially no 18 year old guy like this exists! I can't remember if he's this perfect in the book. We are told the story from Hazel's point of view, so of course we're going to see her view of this great guy and it is easy to see why she likes him. He tells her she's beautiful, he is interested in HER story (and not just her cancer story), he reads her favorite book (and quotes it!), and when they visit the author in Holland and do not get a welcoming reception, he tells Hazel that HE will write the sequel to her favorite book and I'm pretty sure he was being serious.

Willem Dafoe plays the author of her favorite book and he only wrote one book and then became a recluse. Hazel and Gus track him down in Holland and Gus suggests to her that she use her "wish" to visit Holland but she tells him she already used it to go to Disney World, but Gus, who still has his, uses it to travel to Holland and invites Hazel and her mom (Laura Dern) because he is Perfect Guy. When they visit Peter Van Houten, he is a complete jerk to them and it reminded me of that saying that you should never meet your hero because you will always be disappointed by them. Isn't that a saying? Well, if it isn't, I think it should be because it's probably true! Despite that, they have a wonderful time in Holland and make out in the Anne Frank house and while watching it on film it seemed highly inappropriate (despite everyone applauding for them), but it didn't seem as bad when reading the book.

Like I mentioned earlier, the movie follows the book pretty faithfully, but there are some things I noticed were left out. One of them was the explanation of the title! I can't remember in what context they use "the fault in our stars" or what they were talking about, but it is mentioned in the book because I remember thinking, "Oh, that's where the title comes from." But I don't remember the title being uttered in the film. Another scene they cut was my favorite from the book. It is when they are on the plane flying to Amsterdam and everyone around Hazel and Gus are asleep, but they are still awake (even though they took sleeping pills!) watching 300, a movie I've never seen but apparently has a lot of deaths and this leads into a fascinating discussion about how many people in the world have died since the beginning of time and I find this kind of stuff fascinating and I was really disappointed it wasn't in the movie. Once they showed them on the plane and played a song, I knew it would montage into them at the airport and getting around Amsterdam and I was right.

I'm sure there are more, but I found one little shout out to the book. One of them (I think it was Gus) has a V for Vendetta poster in his bedroom or basement (I know, I have the worst memory ever) and in the book he tells Hazel she looks like Natalie Portman from that movie and that was the first movie they watched together. He doesn't say this to her in the movie because Shailene Woodley does not look like Natalie Portman!

Of course, if you've read the book, then you know the ending and it is the same in the movie. Let's just say a film about two teens with cancer is not going to end well, so bring your tissues! I would recommend reading the book, then watching the movie.

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