Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is based on a bestselling book by John Green. Both book and movie are about Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort), two teens who become romantically involved after meeting in a cancer support group. This is not a light, happy teen romance. This is a tearjerker. It is also a very good movie.

This is Woodley's second starring role this year (Divergent being the other). She deserves the work. Her performance is wonderful - strong, vulnerable, funny, sad, and appealing. Elgort (who oddly played Woodley's sister in Divergent) also nails his role as an optimistic, charismatic cancer survivor. The movie relies on the two of them selling their parts as teens, people with cancer, and lovers, and they do.

Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) plays Hazel's mother, and doesn't quite overact it. Hazel's father is True Blood's Sam Trammell, who excels at looking pained and sympathetic. Willem Dafoe also shows off his abilities in the sort of secondary role that I imagine actors like him love to get.

The plot is a fairly typical girl-meets-boy, with the added complication of cancer. The movie handles this subject well - frankly, honestly, not shying away from the horror of the thing. The love story offsets this somewhat, though, especially Gus's vibrant personality, and the movie uses humor effectively to keep the audience from sliding into depression. Still, tissues are recommended.

The book and movie are aimed at teens, if nothing else because the main characters are teens, but the movie should have a broad demographic appeal. Certainly my showing had a good sampling of ages, and the audience appeared to approve.

This is a different sort of movie than I usually review, which makes it somewhat difficult to deal with. There are no effects to speak of, no action scenes. It is an extremely good movie, but difficult to compare to, for instance, the movie it opened against, Edge of Tomorrow. Edge set out purely to entertain, and did so very well. Fault aimed to make the audience feel, and certainly succeeded in that. My rankings are purely subjective and sometimes arbitrary, and this is the kind of movie that makes me regret using the format. I can think of reasons to put it anywhere in the top 8 on the current list. So don't read too much into where I actually put it - this is an excellent movie which is likely to make you cry but still come out of the theater with faith in humanity.

Performance: 4.5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Production: 3/5
Overall: 4/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. The Fault in Our Stars
5. Lone Survivor
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
7. The Wind Rises
8. The Lego Movie
8. Lust For Love
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel
11. Pompeii
12. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
13. Maleficent
14. I, Frankenstein
15. Monuments Men
16. Knights of Badassdom
17. Divergent
18. Brick Mansions
19. 300: Rise of an Empire
20. Godzilla
21. RoboCop
22. Winter's Tale
23. Transcendence
24. Noah
25. The Legend of Hercules
26. Need For Speed
27. 3 Days to Kill

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