The Fault in Our Stars
Watching the film adaptation of John Green's terminal love story will require tissues, or a bucket
A story about first love in the face of certain death, The Fault in Our Stars is based on the novel by John Green. At the centre is a hugely affecting performance from Shailene Woodley – who is shaping up to be something of a star herself. Josh Boone's second feature (following 2012's Stuck in Love) has a title that paraphrases Shakespeare, is rich in sweetness and sorrow but way too liberal in its sprinkling of cheese.
Our protagonist Hazel (Woodley) tells us her story: she's a 17-year-old terminal cancer sufferer whose imminent demise has left her cynical and alienated from her peers. Her mother Frannie (Laura Dern) encourages her to join a support group and this is where she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a young man of singular smugness who ploughs through Hazel's resistance to sweep her off her feet.
Boone's film sticks closely to the narrative of the book and boasts an endearingly sunny aesthetic in defiance of its subject matter. The Fault in Our Stars purports to be a truthful representation of a terrible predicament, yet alongside criticising the clichés of what it calls the ‘cancer genre’, it extravagantly embraces them, featuring teens who are the picture of health when they're close to death and several montages flanked by sugary pop, or music of shameless sentimentality. Nonetheless, it has undeniable impact when the final act's hardship rains down, with a visit to Hazel's favourite author acting like an ice-bath to the movie's maniacal optimism.
The Fault in Our Stars lays its joy and tragedy on with a trowel. Depending on your stomach for films which deal entirely in emotional extremes (and on whether you find Augustus to be a dreamboat or an unbelievably annoying prat) you'll need plenty of tissues, or a bucket. Or possibly both.
General release from Thu 19 Jun.