The Movie Date is a weekly feature where we discuss movies that may appeal to YA readers. Andrew is The Reading Date’s resident movie critic and this week he discusses The Fault in Our Stars directed by Josh Boone based on the book by John Green, and adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
Andrew has not read TFIOS so went into the film with only the knowledge of the trailer. Did he cry? Let’s find out.
I haven’t read the book. And given that this is the tale of a couple of cancer patients and the emotional reactions of 10.7 million readers (in 46 languages!), I was fearful about seeing this movie: was it just going to be a big feel-bad tearfest? Worse, would I cry in public? I needn’t have worried: our heroine Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley, in the finest of her excellent performances to date) narrates the film with blunt, honest candor. She’s read all the cancer books and seen all the movies, and she refuses to become a cliché herself. More to the point, she doesn’t pity herself and doesn’t ask us to, either. But she and her friend Gus (Ansel Elgort) bust out a huge amount of outrageously funny gallows humor, the kind that would sound insensitive coming from anybody who hadn’t been hit by cancer. Though tears are optional in viewing this film (Lucy and I weren’t overly afflicted), the sniffling in the auditorium tonight sounded like an urgent care waiting room in flu season.
I could go into details about the story, but nearly all of you have read this book (right?) and the plot seems quite intact. I will say that (again, as a non-reader) I found myself utterly engrossed in the story; it was one of those excellent films where I had to keep reminding myself to pay attention to the acting and directing (both superb) and then kept getting sucked into the story and characters again.
Beyond my own enjoyment of and admiration for the film, the greatest sign of TFIOS’ success tonight came with the two rounds of applause it garnered. As you might guess, there was plenty of clapping when it ended. But there was also an outbreak of cheering and adulation during the opening credits. The theater was full of fans of the book, and they loved it. That says a lot. I’m also encouraged, with so much sensational awfulness happening in movies and in the real world, that millions of viewers (and readers) can get caught up in the tale of a couple small lives lived proudly and passionately. There may be hope for us yet.
By the Book: Andrew’s questions to Lucy about the book vs. film:
1) What research into the lives and attitudes of cancer patients did John Green do?
In the TFIOS book acknowledgements, Green says he read books on cancer and consulted with medical experts. He also was inspired by Esther Earl, a nerdfighter and friend of John’s who lost her battle with cancer in 2010 at age 16. (Green dedicates the book to her) A collection of Earl’s writings was recently compiled in a book called This Star Won’t Go Out.
2) Did the film story vary from the book story in any major way? (I’m sure there were minor differences.)
Not really. One scene that I noticed was missing was when Augustus and his mother are arguing before they leave for Amsterdam. That scene foreshadows later events, so without it you feel even more blindsided by *spoilers*.
3) Was the tone of the film lighter or heavier than the book, or was it about the same?
It was about the same, though the humor was played up a little more in the film.
4) What’s the one thing that surprised you the most about the film?
It surprised me how faithful the movie is to the book, maybe to a fault. Some of the dialogue is a little cringeworthy in the film, but for the most part I don’t think they could have done a better job adapting the book.
5) Given the heartbreaking subject matter, why do you think this film has resonated so deeply with so many viewers?
I think people are drawn to sad, epic love stories sometimes, and the characters are smart and relatable.
The Fault in Our Stars is in theaters now! Check the official movie site for showtimes and other cool stuff.. The Fault in Our Stars is rated PG-13 and runs 125 minutes.