Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The Fault in Our Stars
Last week, I did a write-up about which actors I believe should have played the major characters in The Fault in Our Stars. Additionally, the post talks a bit about my views on the book, John Green, and reading in general. If you are interested, you can check that post out here. Now, on to the review...
Being so familiar with the story at hand, my hopes for The Fault in Our Stars were terribly high. My expectations, however, did not quite reach the stars... Yes, that was a pun... After viewing the trailer many, many times, I was extremely frightened at how it appeared the film would portray Hazel and Gus's love story, which is obviously the key to the success of the story in the book. Even so, I could not wait to see The Fault in Our Stars! This story and it's imminent tangibility really created a very unique movie-going experience for me. In no way am I a literary guru, but, somehow, this book had a profound effect on me, which made the characters feel so personal and familiar. All of you avid book readers are probably thinking, "Well, duh, Tanner!" and you are probably right. I'm just dumb to that feeling! Not only am I inexperienced at having read a book prior to its movie version, but also I'm not used to being so connected to characters in a book or a movie. In fact, the only comparison I have, from an emotional standpoint, is my relationship with television characters. For me, TV characters are able to connect and draw you closer, in a way that movie characters cannot, and the characters from this amazing book felt similarly connected and close to me. I apologize for the rambling... Nevertheless, there is much more ahead...
If you took the time to read through my praise of the book, you probably know that I am going to say positive things about the plot. The movie's story was extremely true to the book, and, honestly, I don't think anyone could have done a better job of translating The Fault in Our Stars on screen. At the same time, it was easy to see that this book was not designed particularly for a big screen portrayal. Much of the story felt rushed, and, as a result, someone who hadn't read the book might not get the full effect of the evolution of the relationship between Hazel and Gus. As you know, tissues are necessary for most anyone of the female kind (not stereotyping, just speaking the truth). Almost everyone was sobbing uncontrollably, but I was just trying to pick the whole thing apart...
If you read my post about my ideal cast, you will get a good feel for how I interpreted each character, in my readings. That post will probably give you a good understanding of each and every character, but here are a few highs and lows:
While many people may disagree, for me, the glaring negative in this entire film was the portrayal of Augustus Waters by Ansel Elgort. I know, he's nice to look at, and he gets along with Shailene Woodley. But, as a character who is supposed to be a year older than his love interest, the film version of Gus was just a bit too puppy-loveish. Not everyone is going to agree with me, obviously, yet there is no denying that Woodley's Hazel was in absolute control for the entire duration of their time on-screen. I know that the story is told from her perspective, but that's no reason to weaken the strength of Gus's character. Add to that the absolutely awkward/horrible portrayal of Hazel's father (Sam Trammell) and the underuse of Isaac, played very well by Nat Wolff, and you have yourself a film that did not utilize its characters as best as possible (in my opinion).
While the guys may have struggled in their roles, the girls took charge and made the film a memorable one. Shailene Woodley's portrayal of Hazel Lancaster was pretty spot-on, which I was not expecting... at all. In an attempt to suck in stupid, teenage girls, looking for a good date movie, the trailer was not true to the film's version of Hazel, which was quite a relief to me. Additionally, Laura Dern was pretty amazing as Hazel's mom... another unexpected success. The film's portrayal of the relationship between Hazel and her mother had me way closer to tears than her relationship with Gus, which is saying something. Kudos to the filmmakers for pulling off that great relationship with what appeared to be such ease.
Because my watching The Fault in Our Stars was such a personally unique situation, I must say that my judgment of the film (as a film) is likely a bit skewed. In fact, I would actually like to see the movie again before I truly pass judgment on to my awesome readers. If you are in the mood to feel, The Fault in Our Stars is exactly what the doctor ordered, as you are pretty much guaranteed at least twelve lumps in your throat. While some movies build up to one, huge, emotional moment, TFiOS just keeps you emotional the entire time. So, you have been warned! Before I change my mind about encouraging such behavior, let me say that I do believe you should read the book first, which basically goes against all of my beliefs. I'm hopeful that The Fault in Our Stars can be a uniquely awesome experience for each and every one of you, and the book is a good place to begin that journey. I give the book 4.57 out of 5 stars. I give the movie a "to be determined"...