Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars – Review

The Fault in Our Stars – Review

Based on the highly successful book written by John Green and starring Shailene Woodley (The Descendants & The Spectacular Now) as “Hazel” and Ansel Elgort as “Gus”, The Fault in Our Stars is in its basic narrative form is about a young woman fully aware of the fact that she is dying of cancer. What the films story - journey reveals is that it is not a story about a young woman dying of cancer; it’s about love and living to share that love with someone special.

I won’t give any backdrop to the film in that it does not warrant any story development by me for anyone to discern its motive. And while the film started out in the first 30 minutes a bit manipulative it eventually evolved over 2 hours into something that was initially entertaining to something enjoyable to a conclusion that overall I loved.

Now make no mistake about it, this movie wants to make you cry while pushing on all the right buttons to get you there, but what it does not do is let the audience lose its self-respect for the characters by pitying them or to anticipate  any mourning for them. Instead the story of Hazel and Gus and their chance encounter as friends and eventually as two people destined to be linked to one another, gives us the audience honest human performances of two people who are simply nice and who thrive and grow on their romantic connection with each other with every breath they take. And we get through this story with the help of the fine performance of the film’s principle stars, especially Shailene Woodley who manages to keep her Hazel character story grounded even when things start to wander off or threaten to get a bit too melodramatic.

While I don’t think this film reaches Oscar caliber level, Shailene Woodley performance is certain to garner her an Oscar Nomination as Best Actress as she navigate her character’s story with real authentic charm, wit, in the moment gravity, believable strength and human frailty. Her mother played by Laura Dern also has a good chance of her name being announced in the Supporting Actress Category as she too delivered a fine performance of her characters side of the story with displays of genuine Mom like sentiment, indomitable sweetness, love and support to also a Mom living with constant fear, angst and foreboding. With that “The Fault of Our Stars” overall has many good things in it from being wise to sometimes moments of being funny to sometimes delicately reminding us to live and love honestly and fully, to other times a sense of simply not having enough time.

The French have an expression, “Joie de vivre” with its translation to mean, “Joy of living”. “Fault” works very hard for the readers of the book and the viewers of the film to remind, even challenge us, whether we be healthy or not, that as you sit ask “Are you enjoying your life fully?” Probably not. And therefore if not, then why not? We are all on a terminal clock and this story of two young people who are dealing with one of life’s toughest challenges did so with heartfelt earnestness to move past any and all matters of personal inhibitions contrived or real. To move past the needles, the pain, the countless plastic bags of Chemo and constant oxygen tanks in tow. To move past all of the negative reminders of death into something far more noble to where one can compel oneself into simply living and living fully and if you can do it with someone who can openly and honestly love you back than it was a life worth living each minute whether you are from the age of 1 to 92 or if you lived only 1 or to 92.

3 – 3/4 Stars

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