Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
It is rare, actually arguably near impossible, to find a film so heart-warming and yet so completely devastating at the same time. The dichotomy of the love that you feel for the two main characters trying its best to cope with the tears you feel running down your face in the type of constant movement that the M25 would love to be able to achieve on a Friday night during Rush Hour. Yet the dichotomy exists in stunning equal measure and creates a harmony of emotion that you just have to live with or ignore, there is no other way to handle The Fault In Our Stars than by giving in to it completely and utterly.
Adapted from John Green’s novel of the same name, Director Josh Boone gives the film an astonishing amount of tender care, not just in the script but in the way the two young lead actors talk frankly and with amazing beautiful candour about the different types of Cancer they are being treated for. In other hands this type of frankness may have been considered a tad bit schmaltzy, unbelievable even and even then there are going to be those who will only see the headlines and not bother watching it and letting their eyes open in wonder at the deep splendour and humour that the film lovingly employs. Even in the darkest moments, and there are quite a few to get through, there is the undeniable appearance of hope and laughter.
This is a love story, but one tempered by time and disease and how it affects the person as a being but also how the love they feel for another human being can give hope, hope that can take their breath away and not in the manner that the disease preyed upon. It is also a film on which questions are built upon, whether it is how do two people, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, played with amazing dedication to the film’s cause by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, fall for each other when Cancer could split them up at any moment or the question that the film asks subvertly and with no obvious solution, at what point does an author have to play God with his characters who have affected him to the point of rudeness, drunkenness and absolute bitterness, especially when the main person in that book is based on his daughter.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a revelation in the film, the required acting must have been one in which needed great care and sensitivity attached to it but also the way she put through the ringer as the boy she has come to care for has issues of his own. Willem Dafoe also brings a commanding performance as the author Peter van Houten to life. His own inner turmoil, his sharp acidic tongue adding weight to the unhappiness and blame he feels but in which has crept out of his soul and become a black vehement skin in which he lives his life.
Fault In Our Stars is not a film to be entered into lightly, it touches upon many subjects that some will feel completely uncomfortable with and that is their right, you cannot force somebody to look into their heart and feel compassion, however you can, with care, suggest that they do and have their eyes opened to the way that many young, unfairly young, people continue to live after they are diagnosed with this most brutal and indiscriminate of diseases, it might just raise awareness that much further.
A brilliantly told story, superbly captured in all the right ways and a pleasure to weep, laugh and think through.
Ian D. Hall