Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Fault In Our Stars – 2014

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Sitting in a reasonably spacious, uncrowded theatre, amongst the chitter chatter and violent sobbing of scattered ‘packs’ of girls no older than 12, watching yet another best selling novel-turned film that pulls, nay, manhandles the heartstrings was a surprising experience.
Typically, a film such as “The Fault In Our Stars” would not be given the time of day; it appeared from the trailers to be yet another sappy, melodramatic emotionally tiresome vomit-fest that appealed to the audience of the aforementioned demographic. Yet, as with most films, particularly current ones, they deserve a chance. Josh Boone’s second full length feature “The Fault In Our Stars” got its chance…

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Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl with cancer. The film addresses this issue bluntly and directly. Beginning with some deep and powerful dialogue, “TFIOS” aims to be a realistic approach to the serious issue that is cancer, the foundation of the narrative. Hazel possesses a realist’s view of the world, which others tend to call depression. Her negativity and matter-of-fact, unwavering attitude towards treatment, false hope and fake optimism help in shaping her mindset and her stage in life.
After being pushed into attending a group help session with other cancer sufferers, Hazel meets Augustus (Ansel Elgort), a confident, vocal optimist who is a cancer surviver.
The two start off shaky, but through the persistence of Augustus, the two become closer and closer and a delightfully sweet relationship is formed.

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A film such as “TFIOS” had the potential to become the disgustingly sappy and cheesy drama that we’ve seen too many times (see review of “Endless Love”), yet what was refreshing to see was that it didn’t completely conform. What is satisfying about the film (or book for that matter) is that it is a teen drama with dramatic teen elements, yet not once do we see a high school, thus eliminating any high school-related melodramas, nor do we see any parties, thus eliminating any party-oriented cliches. The film is quite gritty and poignant at numerous times, whilst being extremely heartbreaking. There is a lot of raw emotion in this film, which explains the regular outbreaks of tears, spluttering and sobbing from the audience.

The acting is commendable too. Solid performances are seen all over, all except Laura Dern, who plays Hazel’s mother. Her character is so painfully fake and unappealing, at times her exaggerated expressions, mannerisms and overacting in general is simply cringeworthy.
Having said that, the on-screen chemistry that each cast member has with one another is quite impressive. It is easy to become emerged into the world of the characters through this. Thoroughness, care and a solid script are what make this chemistry and realness of character so strong.

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Sadly, this was never going to give a completely deadpan, robust depiction of the life of a cancer sufferer like that of 2011’s“50/50”. “TFIOS” was always going to conform somewhat to the cliche and conventional teen drama recipe, focusing on emotionally heartfelt dialogue, unnatural love scenarios and an overall sense of the “to good to be true” factor. The question that was paramount to a film such as this was, how much would it conform? Thankfully not too much. It isn’t unbearably sappy as a whole, yet the cheesiness is definitely widespread.

“The Fault In Our Stars” was a surprise package, but not overly so. It was surprisingly raw at points and brutally devastating. Some narrative inconsistencies that seemed completely implausible took away from the realistic nature of the brunt of the piece, while the music, cinematography and acting (for the most part) was laudable.
An emotional roller coaster ride that gives a deep insight into the horrors of cancer and the plundering emotional depredation that accompanies it, “The Fault In Our Stars” was definitely a surprisingly striking feature.

3.5/5

Recommended By Emily Ryan & Jordon Lott

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2 comments on “The Fault In Our Stars – 2014

  1. Sokratis Lakrindis
    June 7, 2014

    Solid review billy. Though as for the mother character , Laura Dern hits that outline quite well. A mother of a dying child acting fake is quite a realistic approach to be as unbelievably positive to hide the pain. I commended the film for not saturating it with moments such as delving into the mother and fathers pain.
    But that’s just me

    • wmsteele
      June 7, 2014

      Yeah I took that from the film and I totally understand the overly positive nature of her. I just think it could’ve been handled a bit better. The dad was perfectly fine, no qualms there, just something about Dern that was quite distancing.

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