The Fault in Our Stars
As a close friend is dying, think of your last words being the following: “Remember that I will always have you in my heart, okay?” That’s the question, with the answer being, “OKAY.”;
The Fault in Our Stars is a significant movie because its content exceeds its promotional image. Sure, you are going to be brought to tears repeatedly as you watch teenagers dying of cancer who fall in love. However, the movie is about the quality of life as opposed to the trauma of death.
Shailene Woodley is extraordinary as she jumps from her convincing role in Divergent to Hazel, a gutsy little girl fighting cancer and expectant death. In order to breathe, she caries an oxygen tank with her everywhere. She faces the end of her road where she will neither seek nor accept any type of sympathy.
Reluctantly forced to attend a support group at the urging of her parents, her life changes immediately when she meets an 18-year old boy named Gus, a young lad with an artificial leg who is fighting his own cancer affliction. Gus is at the meeting to help a friend facing imminent blindness, an energetic kid (Natt Wolff, a spitting image of a young Peter Reigert) whose intelligence matches his wit.
Gus, played with feeling by Ansel Elgort, is hard for both Hazel and the audience to initially grasp. Constantly seen chewing on an unlit cigarette to calm his nerves, he evolves from a borderline S.O.B. to a kid you will embrace along with Hazel. That will be particularly easy for Indianapolis residents when you see him in a Rik Smits jersey and a North Central Panthers poster in his room.
As noted, as Hazel and Gus face death you crash head-on into the meaning of life. You are reminded that funerals are for the living and not for the dead. You also confront the reality that life is not about the number of people who remember you, but those who loved you. Both Hazel and Gus learn that though life isn’t fair, we all must try to make our mark in whatever manner possible while we experience a few short years of health.
Though I have not read the book by John Green, Director Josh Boone brings death fully to life. In that regard, Laura Dern and Sam Trammell give convincing performances as Hazel’s distraught parents. They completely love her and try to provide her a meaningful existence as they wrestle with their personal torment.
Additionally, there is an extraordinary moment in the film where Hazel, her mother and Gus travel to Amsterdam to visit the author of her favorite book. The book concerns the death of a young girl, though the writer turns out to be a morbid alcoholic. Played with hateful style by Willem Defoe, he continues to distinguish himself with characters who you love to loathe.
After their ugly experience with Mr. Dafoe, Hazel and Gus are escorted to the home of Anne Frank. As you watch Hazel struggle up numerous stairs with her oxygen tank, the two young girls seem to share the same soul.
In the end, while this movie centers on family tragedies that you hope no one has to endure, we all know the reality of life. Despite the fact that we are all going to face the deaths of family and friends as we age, we don’t simply write off life because of that inevitable end.
In a sense, it is almost like the joy of having pets. No, you don’t avoid inviting them into your home given the sad fact that they are going to die before you. You embrace them because of the love and joy they bring to your home during the time you have with them.
That is the meaning of this exquisite little film.