So I am continuing to get through the 2014 releases and I think like last year it will probably take me till June to be done but this last weekend I got through 3 more including The Fault in Our Stars.
Based on the best seller by John Green Fault in Our Stars was a huge hit making 305 million on a 12 million budget. I know many love it and the book but I had mixed feelings.
Fault in Our Stars is about a girl fighting cancer named Hazel Grace who meets a cute boy in group therapy named Augustus Waters (such movie names…). He’s a free thinker and likes to put a cigarette in his mouth because “you put the thing that does the killing right between your teeth. You don’t give it the power to do its killing’
Shailene Woodley, on the other hand, is great as Hazel and her part doesn’t really give her that much to work with but she is so good you become very attached to her. (Lily Kenna as a young Hazel is also very good and looks an amazing amount like Woodley). The dialogue felt a little too cute at times and it was just ok for me. I can see how it would really work in a book but it doesn’t feel authentic even with how relatable and real Woodley is in the part.
Laura Dern and Sam Trammell are fine as her parents and the supporting cast including Nat Wolf as their blind best friend are all good.
The romance between Gus and Hazel is very sweet but it all felt a little too Nicholas Sparksian for me. I guess at least there isn’t a big cancer ‘reveal’ like in his movies but it all felt kind of manipulative and corny. I knew what was going to happen and was waiting for the big shoe to drop, but I was still enjoying the relationship and tearing up at the thought of both soon dying. I’m not a monster so of course that affects me but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good movie. The movie has to earn the tears it evokes.
Next we get a long segment where Hazel and Gus get to fulfill her dream of meeting her favorite author in Amsterdam. This is Gus’ Make a Wish wish and Hazel anxiously awaits knowing what happened to the cancer-stricken girl in her favorite book.
This is where the movie lost me. William Dafoe plays the author Peter Van Houten as one of the biggest jerks in movie history. He’s right up there with the dictators, despots and murderers. I’m serious. It took me out of the movie it was so over the top. It kind of made me angry at the movie for manipulating me and making me feel such anger and for what? What does that anger do? It’s not like 12 Years a Slave where I learn about evil and human history. This is a man who would never exist so it is anger merely there to make me, the viewer, angry.
It’s like this movie pretends twitter, social media and news doesn’t exist. This is a popular enough book for it to be big in the US when written in Amsterdam and yet an author will say to 2 kids with cancer flown across the world:
“You are a side-effect to an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation”
Give me a break movie. Last year the chef Ina Garten couldn’t fit a Make a Wish kid into her schedule and it was a huge story. Her career took a huge hit and she didn’t even say anything mean. Can you imagine if something like this happened with a teen novelist? Forget it. It would be all over twitter and everywhere else. He’d have to be JK Rowling rich to not have to be at least passably nice to these kids.
I don’t know. It really kind of pissed me off. Screw you movie for making me care about these characters and then putting them in a situation where they are basically verbally flogged for no reason.
Another speech by Van Houten:
“Let’s imagine you’re racing a tortoise. The tortoise has a ten-yard head start. In the time it takes you to run ten yards the tortoise has moved maybe one yard, and so on, forever. You’re faster than the tortoise, but you can never catch him, you see? You can only decrease his lead. Now, certainly, you can run past the tortoise as long as you don’t contemplate the mechanics involved. But the question of “how” turns out to be so complicated that no one really solved it until Cantor’s proof that some infinities are bigger than other infinities. I assume that answers your question”
Why did that need to be there? Just to prove what a great guy Gus was? We already knew that. To show there is something worse than death by cancer? That could work if it was a little bit subtle (say the grumpy lady in Pollyanna who comes around) but this just made me angry at the movie.
I guess at least we know Green Goblin will not be the worst person William Dafoe has ever played. That’s for sure.
And then the movie piles on by taking them to the Anne Frank house next! (Where they kiss for the first by the way and the other attendees at the house cheer which seemed very strange thing for people to do in the Anne Frank house). Give me a break! Know when to allow your viewers to breathe and take in all they’ve seen, and when they do don’t make it tonally awkward and unsatisfying . I’ve been less exhausted watching WWII movies.
The movie then picks up some steam and there is a lovely eulogy moment and I did cry a lot at the ending even though it was pretty predictable but that writer scene really ruined it for me. I felt manipulated and disgusted and it never could quite win me back.
I know that’s the way the book is and they try to throw a little bit of redemption for Van Houten but I already felt thoroughly emotionally drained and manipulated by the movie to care much. I guess the book would have done the same for me.
So despite some good performances and a nice look to it I can’t recommend The Fault in Our Stars. However, if you like the book and that scene doesn’t tick you off than I can see why you might like it. Even without it it’s just not my favorite kind of movie. A lady at my church just died from cancer and it was really sad but it was also inspiring. I wish there was more of that kind of feeling in The Fault in Our Stars.
As far as content it is pretty mature for a teenage weeper. There is a sex scene with a lot of skin and a litle language (although if there was ever a moment to cuss someone out it is Van Houten) I would say its right on the edge of an R and is for mature teens only.
Those of you who liked it I’d love to hear your thoughts?
Overall Grade- C- Content Grade- C