The Fault in Our Stars

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Today was supposed to be my day with Tom. I was going to eat popcorn. He was going to die. I planned on getting blasted by 3-D. He was going to die. I was, finally, going to appear in public wearing my Cocktail shirt. And he. Was going. To die. Alas, it was not meant to be. The movie theater didn’t have a 3-D Edge of Tomorrow (crazy, I know). And I only see movies before noon. That left only two options. See DOFP for the fourth time — worth it just for the feels when Jean and Scott pop in — or watch The Fault in Our Stars with an estimated sixty female high school students. One thing’s for sure, tears were going to be shed.

Based on John Green’s best selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars centers around two teenagers who have the all too common misfortune of living with cancer. It’s a story we’ve all heard before, but one no less potent. I was intent on not crying during any point of the film. It was a bold task, this I know, but one I deemed possible. Let’s be honest here. If I can sit through A Walk to Remember without sobbing, this should be amateur hour. Oh yeah, that’s right. I cried uncontrollably at the end of the Mandy Moore classic.

There’s no excuse for letting my guard down back in 2002. I will, however, defend my emotions getting the best of me earlier today. You get the feeling right from the start that there won’t be a happy ending. Terminal cancer is terminal. The film’s acting could have been shoddy, the dialogue stiff, music grating. As it happened none of this was the case. But it wouldn’t have mattered. When you’re dealing with cancer, something every one is or will be affected by, you are going to strike a chord.

At the head of that chord is Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort). I usually cringe when people use the term “chemistry” between two actors. But in this case, there was something there. It piques my curiosity. Why were these two so good together? Did they hang out on the set all day? Before shooting even began? Are they dating in real life like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone? Or maybe they’re just really good at what they do. I’ll be the first to admit how tacky the relationship between Jamie and Landon is in A Walk to Remember. Don’t get me wrong. I watch it every time it’s on TBS. Yet I won’t deny rolling my eyes at more than a few scenes. And honestly, not once during the two hours did I guffaw during this. Believe me, there were opportunities. But Woodley and Elgort were fantastic. I’ve yet to read the book, so I’m unaware of the accuracy of the casting, but man did I buy every second of what those two were selling.

Willem Dafoe pops up for a bit as Hazel’s favorite author. The character happens to be a huge asshole and Dafoe plays it well. Nat Wolff appears as Isaac, a friend of Gus’s who’s losing his sight to cancer. Much of the comedy comes from Isaac, despite all the laughs Gus received from the teenagers in my audience.

Some of the hardest scenes to watch included Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. They were Hazel’s parents in the film. As good as I believe Woodley and Elgort’s acting was, they weren’t the reason for my watery eyes. They just legitimized it when all the girls in my theater went “awwwwww” every fifteen minutes. No, it wasn’t them or their characters. The parents were what killed me.

The only thing worse than dying of cancer at 16 is being the parent of a kid who dies of cancer.

Hazel says this, or something of the sort, in the film. Maybe my feelings about the quote will change if, I should say when , I get cancer, but until then I’m in full support. Credit to Dern and Trammell. If it weren’t for them I’d be saying how I didn’t hate Hazel and Gus all that much and Willem Dafoe is awesome. With them I’m saying it’s a film worth watching.

This is a solid movie and a sad tale, but not as sad as it’ll be made out to be in the coming weeks. There’s hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands who die of cancer without meeting the love of their life. Most will die alone. There won’t be trips of a lifetime to Sweden. No losing virginities. Just the constant reminder of death slowly upon them. That, to me, is the ultimate sadness. That’s the story I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Because that’s sorrow and despair. And life. The Fault in Our Stars is a fine movie and I’ll be the first to admit I shed tears. But I’ve also cried during Sarah McLachlan’s SPCA commercial. They resonate with me no longer than someone saying “okay”. Okay.

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