Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 4 July 2014


Rating: 2 ½ stars
Bottomline: The fault lies in the direction
If Love Story by Erich Segal taught us that love meant never having to say sorry; The Fault in Our Stars shows it’s not important to be extraordinary and great to be loved deeply, not widely. Beyond that, there is not much to this love story between two cancer afflicted teenagers.
Sad love stories usually turn out to be great tearjerkers. The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s novel, has both its humorous and weepy moments, but doesn’t quite tug at the heart. Especially when it stays a tad pretentious.
The only interesting though clichéd character; a bitter, alcoholic writer, Peter Von Houten (Willem Dafoe), tells a cancer afflicted 18 year old fan, Gus (Ansel Elgort),
"Were she better, or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves".
The letter is a result of 16 year old cancer patient, Hazel’s (Shailene Woodley) dying wish to meet the famous Houten. She has been reading his book, “An Imperial Affliction” over and over again and just has to know what becomes of certain characters in the book. More so, because it had actually ended halfway of a sentence. Gus helps fulfill her dying wish by taking her all the way to Amsterdam to meet the author.
Hazel has been afflicted by terminal thyroid cancer that has also affected her lungs and survives on a constant supply of oxygen. She is seen throughout, sporting a neat, short haircut, a thin oxygen tube across her nose and carrying an oxygen tank everywhere she goes. A steep climb up several stairs in Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, when she constantly runs out of breath, though manipulative and wearisome, reinforces her invincible zest for life.
She meets Gus at a cancer support group. Gus has lost one foot but smiles like the sun has never stopped shining on his cute face. Like most teenagers, the two bond over the books they exchange (note, not video games). Soon smses move on to long conversations and picnics together. The two are in love. And yes, it’s most gratifying to see two dying teenagers get their chance to live the normal life of any teenager in love. With their total awareness of their limited time, they reveal how they stretch their time together and as Hazel puts it across in the best speech in the film, quoting the infamous Houten, “some infinities are bigger than other infinities…”
The writing, thus, touches the profound, occasionally. It turns cute at other times. Like the way the characters form their love code “okay”. The rest of the time, the interaction between the two, as well as other characters, especially Hazel’s parents, stays rather awkward. The screenplay is full of dramatic buildups that resolve themselves easily.
Woodley’s natural performance as Hazel sees the stilted scenes through. In a smaller role as Isaac who loses his eyesight to cancer, Nat Woolf, does a more remarkable job in a moving mock funeral scene than Elgort.
If not for the awkward direction and storytelling of a sad love story, The Fault In Our Stars might have been more than ‘okay’. The real fault is that this movie is neither a tearjerker nor a feel good, sad film.
Makes you wonder why it is already a huge success in the US. Perhaps, John Green’s fans can explain that.

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