Monday, January 12, 2015

Movie Monday: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Last spring, I read John Green's best selling YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars. My reaction? To use the YA vernacular: all the feels. The book is beautiful. If you haven't read it, you should. Even if you think YA literature isn't for you.

When I was assigned to read the book for my Adolescent Literature class, I knew my time had come to finally see the movie. (Yes, even I can be a slacker student once in a great while. I don't feel badly. I skimmed the book again and had plenty of notes leftover from last time I read it. Perks of having a book blog.) To this point, I had avoided seeing the movie, mostly because I really can't stand Shailene Woodley.

Before I start talking about the film itself, can we all just take a moment, look at that movie poster, and wonder why Gus and Hazel have the same hair? Thank goodness it doesn't come across that way in the actual movie.

So, with the same trepidation I feel before I watch any adaptation of a really good book (particularly when the lead actress is one I don't like), I settled in to watch with Kevin and my iPad to take notes. And I took so many notes. I mean, tons. Since they are a bit all over the place and I doubt I'll ever really be able to work them into cohesive sentences and paragraphs about the film, I'm opting to give you an overview.

  • Gus is perfectly arrogant. Ansel Elgort played him to perfection. I loved seeing his insecurity on the plane. To me, this character is the best captured from the book. He even comes across more real and understandable than he does on the page.
  • I love seeing such a great depiction of how reading impacts lives (Hazel & her favorite book).
  • I love all the deep thinking these characters do. There was quite a bit of discussion about this in my class regarding whether or not it was too deep for teenage characters. My thoughts: how could kids in their situation not think deeply? They've already been through so much and felt a wider range of emotion than many adults.
  • Van Houten was also perfectly depicted. So horrible and jackass-ish. It was also a great depiction of a creative type. Although, he shouldn't have shown up at the end. Only change I didn't like. 
  • On the Van Houten train, watching Gus get upset during their meeting was awesome.
  • And Van Houten's assistant was also delightful. Such great casting.
  • Hazel's mom demonstrates a great balance of hurting and levity. I'm so glad they cast Laura Dern in this role. She is fabulous. I can only hope I would act similarly should I ever be in that horrible situation.
  • The Anne Frank voice over was very well done.
  • The sex scene (controversial, I know) was perfect, too. It was awkward and funny and real. I felt like it was a much more accurate portrayal of sex than most movies have, particularly when dealing with first-time sex.
  • I loved how real the moment is when Gus told her about his relapse. As they sit on that bench, life is going by all around them, but there they are: stopped and unable to move forward. Two dying children. Tragic and beautiful.
  • I liked that they were in sweats and casual clothes so much. It felt real to me. Like cancer kids wouldn't bother being all dressed up and trendy.
  • The movie felt equally proportioned before and after the Amsterdam trip. The book has the trip much later.
  • Woodley is so much better in this than in Divergent. Is it just better material? I found it hard to dislike her here.
Sorry for the brain dump, there. I just had so many scattered thoughts about this film. My takeaway, though, was that it was a beautiful adaptation. I felt the spirit of the book was really captures. Sure, there were a few differences between the film and book, but nothing so vital that it changed the feel of the book.

One warning for you. I did not cry when I read the book. Call me cold and cynical, but I have never really been a book crier. The movie, on the other hand...oh gosh. I just bawled like a little baby. I cried at least four times, most of all when (spoiler!) Hazel spoke at Gus's funeral. Maybe because I've been in a pretty similar situation, but I just lost it. I mean, to the point where I was embarrassed, even though Kevin was the only one there. Poor guy. He probably thought I was losing it, which, to be fair, I kind of was. 

All that to say, I highly recommend this film, particularly if you have any personal experience with cancer or terminal illness among your family or friends. Green's story is evocative and his characters are so wonderfully human. Seriously, if you're not going to read the book (which you should) at least see this beautiful film.


  1. I had a friend who died of cancer when she was 9 and I was 10, and this book/movie felt the most realistic of any "cancer kid" story I've ever read/seen, because it doesn't portray them as overly perfect.

  2. I feel so alone out here in the indifferent-to-John-Green camp. I read Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns (which are pretty much the same story in a different setting) and just kind of shrugged. I definitely think The Fault In Our Stars was much better than the other two, but, I don't know - I don't like Gus because no teenage boy actually talks like that. It's everything a teenage girl wants to here but it's not real. You mentioned teenagers thinking deeply and how in their circumstances they would have to, but come on. Also the name Gus sucks. And he was supposed to be SUPER HOT and Ansel Whatshisface is just not. (This is sounding so harsh but for some reason I have so many strong feelings about this book! Which probably speaks to its brilliance more than anything.)

    I am probably an author's ideal reader because I see NOTHING coming. I get so sucked into the story that I take it a page at a time so when we get BLIND SIDED WITH HEARTBREAK like in The Fault In Our Stars it knocks me silly every time. I was BAWLING and then I shut the book and didn't read the last chapter or whatever. I can't imagine why I would ever want to see the movie - just setting myself up for more heartbreak?! No thanks.

    1. Haha - you sound just like Kevin. He complains SO MUCH when he thinks a character doesn't talk like people actually do. This is his sole reason for hating Gilmore Girls, which is basically an affront to who I am as a person. Me, I'm totally pulled in by realistic Aaron Sorkin-like dialogue because it's how I wish I talked.

      I totally see what you're saying about Gus, though. He is too good to be true. I'll give you that. Agreed on Ansel whathisface, though. Not hot enough. And weird that he played Caleb in Divergent, which made him Shaliene Woodley's brother and lover simultaneously. Blech.