I don’t normally write reviews for films that have already opened but after seeing “The Fault in Our Stars” this past weekend I felt the need to share my thoughts. By now, most have seen the trailer and know that it’s about young romance between cancer patients, so I went expecting a sappy, manipulative drama with clichéd dialogue easily digestible for teens. But what I discovered was a smartly written film with the ability to reinforce one’s belief in true love.
Romantic tales only work when the characters are likable and their attraction believable. Unfortunately Hollywood has gotten so lazy over the years that studios believe that combining any two pretty, but bland, actors together regurgitating tired dialogue in overused settings (kissing in the rain, running to the airport), all accompanied by a safe Top 40 ballad will guarantee box office success. That’s why “The Fault in Our Stars” is so refreshing.
The characters are real and their chemistry palpable. Shailene Woodley doesn’t play terminal ill cancer patient Hazel as a victim. Instead she’s strong and worries more about her loved ones than demand pity for herself. With “The Descendants,” “The Spectacular Now” and “Divergent,” she’s a huge star in the making. Ansel Elgort is also remarkable as her forever optimistic love interest Gus, who she meets at a cancer support group. He’s confident and goes after what he wants, but without being a jerk about it. But their bond goes beyond cancer. Their outlook on life, passion for a particular novel and general positivity not only bring them together, but also draws the audience in.
Watching their romance develop onscreen brought so many personal thoughts to mind, forming a connection between the film and myself. The special moments shared by Hazel and Gus, those moments that those in love never forget – the first time their eyes meet, the first time they dress up for a fancy dinner, the first time they declare love for each other, all connected with me and my own experiences. My belief in love was fortified as I watched them discover it themselves. My eyes unexpectedly teared numerous times during the film, but surprisingly not from its tragedy. The movie does not cheaply pull at heartstrings by playing the obvious cancer card. Instead, I was moved by the beauty of their relationship and how real their love felt. The brilliant screenplay also keeps the audience’s attention and never succumbs to predictability.
“The Fault in Our Stars” is the most romantic film I’ve seen in a very long time. If you’re currently in love or wish to be one day, go watch this film and believe that love is indeed real.