Friday, June 6, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) demands to be felt

Book vs Movie: The Fault in Our Stars
Photo Credit: The Fault in Our Stars / 20th Century Fox
Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley)'s thyroid cancer has progressively grown into lung cancer. For the time being her condition is stable when she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) at a support group. Accepting her limited lifespan which has no specific expiration date, Grace tries to limit the relationships she's involved in by not wanting to hurt the people she loves. As she and Gus become friends, her will to avoid his attempts at wooing fail. The typical young adult genre of "love worth dying for" transforms into a story of love worth living for.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green was originally published in 2012 and has managed to stay atop bestseller's list for the past two years. The story of teenagers falling in love despite facing the inevitability of oblivion has become a cultural phenomenon. Millions of readers dote on how the novel captures a voice of a generation, a relationship centered around realistically grim circumstances, and characters facing mortal affliction. Adapted to the big screen, The Fault In Our Stars is an endearing emotional fixation and success.

A book that offers a sarcastic and teenagerly-honesty perspective could have had big mistake written all over it when Hollywood knocked on Green's doors. Riding on the wave of failure or success, the movie truly rests on Woodley and Elgort - not just for meeting reader's expectations but also how their characters could've been performed by other actors. On their own, and as a pair, both are charming and tender delivering a right balance of endearing comedy and heartbreaking drama. Its supporting cast, which includes Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, and Sam Trammell, also deliver entertaining and subtle performances. With the right guiding and attentive hand, the production captures the love that emanates from readers to author, and character to character.

A polarizing aspect of this adaptation, which has held a stronghold on the media and internet for most of 2014, is the overwhelming praise the book has earned. Despite my blog's appearance, I cannot call myself a Nerdfighter; a hard-earned label Green fans call themselves. I read the book cover-to-cover more out of curiosity than any buzzworthy acclaim. I fell in love with his realistic yet all-too-optimistic world and had high aspirations that it could be a good adaptation, but I didn't harbor intense passion like many fans.

Respectfully, I was able to have some emotional distance. The movie was enjoyable for watching scenes from the book come to life and still look at it from a perspective by someone else who might be watching the movie out of curiosity. For the latter, I won't refrain from saying that in very few scenes did I feel like the camera work or pacing could have been improved. The actual romantic themes in the film are formulaic; the novel and book are not typically daring in terms of boy and girl meet and then fall in love. What is different about the pairing of Grace and Waters from other couples is how these characters handle life's most difficult crises and still come out the other end hopeful, loving, and vulnerable. There are degrees of relativity in this movie that most people might not suspect either having personally dealt with cancer/family member with cancer or falling in love for the first time. It's the emotionally rousing delivery of youth in love with all its euphoric highs and soul-crushing lows that continuously makes these characters and their dynamics so beloved.

During the production of the film, Green was given slack for crying on-set because he was emotionally compromised watching his novel being adapted. I can't say that I blame him. The story is the stuff of movie magic where as a reader most of the details you pictured were depicted straight from your own imagination. For such a big movie with unbelievably high anticipation riding on the book's coattails, the film experience is surprisingly intimate. During the three-month press tour of the cast and crew sharing praise and dedication for the movie's release, the gratitude everyone had for the material shows in all the right ways with the best cast, script, and studio for the job.

As much excitement has set the world on fire as this being a box office breaker or a love story of the decade, The Fault In Our Stars is able to come alive just as a good movie and adaptation; it's not entirely faultless but definitely funny, uplifting, and lovely.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen The Fault In Our Stars? What do you think?

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