Movies: 'The Fault in Our Stars' reviewed by young woman, 14, whose mom survived cancer
Naomi Horn, 14, reviews the film adaptation of John Green's best-selling book about young adults with cancer who find love. Naomi is no stranger to cancer: her mom is a survivor, and others in her family have died of the disease.
You’re in a packed theater. The movie ends, the credits roll, and it’s impossible to hear the closing music over the sound of everyone in the theater sobbing. It is rare for so many to be moved so deeply, but as ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ ended in the theater where I saw it last night, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
I am a very devoted fan of the book, and had high expectations for the film. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ did not disappoint me. The actors were genuine, innovative, and stayed true to their characters. The set was amazingly detailed, with countless little touches that added depth to the movie. For instance, the color blue was used a lot, alluding to the book’s distinctive cover. The script stuck close to the book, with entire scenes that lined up nearly word-for-word with the text. Some scenes from the book were left out, but the film flowed well with those modifications. A moviegoer who has not read the book would never notice anything missing from the plot.
The story is about two kids with cancer who fall in love and experience death in a bittersweet tangle of events, but the story isn’t really about death. It's about being alive, and all the pains and joys that accompany life, but with characters who are facing much higher stakes than most of us.
The movie opens with a voiceover done by Shailene Woodley, the actress who plays the terminally ill, incredibly insightful 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster. The book is written in first person voice, so Woodley's narration keeps Hazel's witty and honest anecdotes alive.
Hazel's story is one not often told. She is a three-year survivor of an incredibly aggressive form of stage IV thyroid cancer, and is living on borrowed time. Her mom decides that Hazel is depressed, and sends her to a support group lead by a guy named Patrick. Patrick is portrayed hilariously by Mike Birbiglia, who brings an element of humor to the movie with his cringe-worthy speeches about his cancertastic past.
As in the book, Hazel meets her future love interest, Augustus Waters, at the support group. Augustus is played by the lovable Ansel Elgort, and the character is in remission from osteosarcoma. He's big on metaphors and symbolism, and Elgort strikes the perfect balance between pretentious, innocent, and extremely adorable. To be honest, I was unsure how well this was cast when they first announced that he was playing Gus, but I shouldn't have doubted. I couldn't find any faults in Elgort's performance of Augustus Waters.
The film was beautiful. There were lots of close-up shots that made me feel as if I was standing right there next to the actors. The soundtrack really tied everything together, even though some songs could barely be heard over the sound of crying in the theater (seriously!). The vibrant colors and panoramic views gave the movie a very rich feel.
Extremely devoted fans of the book might be confused or disappointed by some of the changes or omissions. In the book, Augustus is 17, but in the movie, they changed his age to 18 for no apparent reason. Additionally, supporting characters like Caroline Mathers, Kaitlyn, and Augustus's sisters were completely left out. The scene at the swingset and the gas station are shortened from the book, and much of what happens at the airport isn't included. Originally, the book’s author John Green made a cameo in the airport, but his acting was pretty terrible and the movie was running a bit long, so it was cut. Much to my dismay, the blind guy video game scene isn't included at all.
Despite all this, it's still one of the most faithful book-to-movie adaptations I have ever seen.
Some scenes were actually more potent in the film. For example, the Anne Frank scene is much more powerful in the movie because of the relevant ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ quotes that play in the background as Hazel and Gus struggle up the steep staircases. I was very glad to see that Hazel's cannula and Gus's prosthetic leg were not romanticized. In fact, the inconveniences they create for the characters are more obvious in the film than in the book.
Hazel's parents are excellently portrayed by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. They have more of a presence in the film than in the book, too, which makes Hazel's fear of hurting her parents feel more powerful.
I had very high expectations for TFIOS movie, and it more than lived up to them. I'm very grateful to the entire cast and crew for their ability to take such a sensitive book and turn it into an equally wonderful film. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see love, life, and loss shown in their purest forms.
Make sure to bring lots of tissues, and if at all possible, read the book first.
Previously on Boing Boing: Naomi's response to 'The Fault in our Stars' trailer
A year ago, the Norwegian Consumer Council commissioned a study into kids' smart watches, finding that they were incredibly negligent when it came to security and incredible greedy when it came to surveillance: a deadly combination that meant that these devices were sucking up tons of sensitive data on kids' lives and then leaving it […]
Kickstarting the Makerphone: an open-source hardware phone kit, programmable with python and Scratch
Circuitmess's fully funded Makerphone kickstarter is raising money to produce open source hardware smartphone kits to teach kids (and grownups) everything from soldering to programming.
The new parental controls in Ios 12 have all the same problems that all parental controls have: they overblock legit material (with a bias for sex-ed, especially sex-ed targeted at girls and queer kids, including Teen Vogue) and underblock all kinds of other material (neo-Nazi publications like The Daily Stormer and Reddit's pornographic /r/Gonewild are […]
Businesses of any size continue to use PDFs despite – and perhaps because of – their stubborn resistance to simple editing. But for those who need a little flexibility on their documentation, the search is over for alternative software. PDF Expert for Mac is the catch-all solution for wrangling those PDFs, and it’s available at […]
When it comes to tech, smaller is better, and these items fit the bill both in terms of size and price. We’ve rounded up our favorite stocking-ready gadgets, most of which are already on sale – and you can take an additional 15% off any of them with the special code MERRY15. iPM 3-in-1 Fast […]
So you’ve got a good eye for pictures? We’ve got a good eye for deals. And this holiday, there are some solid deals out there for photographers. Check out some of our favorite recent discounts on gear, software, and e-learning for photogs of any experience. Gadgets RevolCam: The Multi-Lens Photo Revolution for Smartphones This […]