"The Fault in Our Stars" is a romantic, wise, emotional drama that teaches viewers to be honest, strong, and live life to the fullest no matter what’s thrown at them.
Based on the popular young adult novel and starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell and Willem Dafoe, this film tells the love story of two teenagers with different forms of cancer who share their experiences, hardships, and form a strong bond during their sad and heartbreaking -- yet inspired and hopeful -- journeys through life.
If the quality of a film is judged by the amount of tears from the female viewers in the theater, then "The Fault in Our Stars" gets a major thumbs up.
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley) is an extraordinary, smart and pleasant young girl who is dealing with a form of cancer that requires her to use a portable oxygen tank to breathe. When her parents force her to go to a cancer support group, she begins to open up more and meets several new people, including Augustus "Gus" Waters (Elgort), a post-cancer patient with a prosthetic leg.
Confident, smooth-talking and full of energy, Gus immediately strikes up several conversations with Hazel at the support group, and they become fast friends. Spending more time together by bonding over Hazel’s favorite book, Gus is not shy in his open declaration of his feelings and strong compliments for Hazel, who says she only wants to be friends because of her condition but clearly appears to feel something more.
The story continues as their relationship grows. They fall in love and together they pursue finding out more about Hazel’s mysterious book by contacting its author.
Like many stories of this nature, the main character (Hazel) narrates the story and thinks aloud from time to time, which provides a form of background, explanation, and sometimes comedy -- be it playful humor and dialogue, or morbid, dark, depressing content.
A good amount of the movie is filled with similar content as characters discuss their lives, conditions, regrets, and feelings about living, dying, and dealing with cancer.
The thing that lights up the film is the chemistry and relationship between Hazel and Gus, the fun they have together, and the countless affectionate moments or looks they share.
A large part of the film deals with the book Hazel is obsessed with, which soon becomes one of Gus’ interests as well. Not happy with the ending and having many questions, Gus contacts the author Van Houten, played by an amusing Willem Dafoe, on behalf of himself and Hazel. Because of his cancer, he is granted a trip through a “Make a Wish” type of organization (called “Genies” in the movie) to visit the author in Amsterdam.
This trip of a lifetime only brings them closer as they fulfill their wish and spend some quality time together.
"The Fault in Our Stars" is the kind of movie that will make a sentimental, hopeless romantic or sensitive person choke up when seeing the characters cry or experience emotional, heart-felt moments -- or when seeing the depressing condition some of the characters are in throughout the film.
It’s very poetic at times, talking about life, death, and love, and this content is complimented by the music featured in the film. Through all of the romance and sadness, there is a lot of comic relief in large part due to Ansel Elgort.
I do wonder if the film dragged on too long, as it could have ended multiple times. But as it continued, it appeared to have more to say and thus more time needed to tie things up.
All in all, this movie explores what it’s like to be alive and in love, and teaches you to make the most out of your life -- even if it is a short one. It’s female-driven for the most part, well acted, has a sweet story, and really makes you feel for the characters.
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars.
‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language. Running time is 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.