Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Review: Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort & Laura Dern

Novel adaptations are steadily on the rise in Hollywood. From Harry Potter to The Hunger Games and most recently Divergent (also starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort), these films have been some of Tinseltown’s most successful. Later this year the popular novels “If I Stay” and “The Maze Runner” will also be released on the big screen. John Greene’s novel “The Fault in Our Stars” is the latest to have this treatment and director Josh Boone (2013’s Stuck in Love) gives us faithful readers exactly what we want to see on screen: Hazel and Gus.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a terminally ill 16-year-old girl whose 24-7 companion is an oxygen tank and a cannula to help her breathe. Hazel has a no BS attitude and accepts the fact that she needs an oxygen tank to survive and that her cancer will most likely eventually kill her. Hazel’s parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) still want their only child to have that “teenager experience,” get out and enjoy life as much as she can, all the while going to a cancer support group to help with her “depression.”

At the support group Hazel meets 17-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a cancer survivor with an extremely positive attitude, one leg (the other was removed because of cancer) and confidence so high it about knocks Hazel off her feet when she first meets him (literally). After a few weeks of hanging out, the two teens begin to develop feelings for one another, though Hazel tries to keep her distance in fear that her cancer will fully return, setting off a “grenade” erupting her newfound friendship with Gus. But what Hazel will soon find out is that Gus isn’t willing to give up on her so easily.

fault in our stars 2

Shailene Woodley is among the top of young Hollywood starlets. We all remember her memorable performance opposite George Clooney in 2011’s The Descendants especially in that scene where she cried underwater, and most recently as young heroine Tris Prior in Divergent, where she squared off against Kate Winslet. Woodley has never been better as cancer patient Hazel Grace. She plays true to the Hazel in the novel, but also adds her wide array of emotions to the character here. Woodley gives Hazel a more dramatic character arc, while also making her a realistic teenage girl.

You may not know who Ansel Elgort is now, but you will after this movie. Elgort played Woodley’s brother earlier this year in Divergent and had a small role last year in Carrie opposite Chloe Grace Moretz, but as Augustus Waters he’s truly found his stride. Elgort and Woodley have incredible chemistry. Their love story slowly progresses in the beginning, but when it fully hits us midway through the film, we’re all in as we root for this couple. Woodley and Elgort create one of the most realistic and memorable couples in film maybe ever.

And also just for the record, Laura Dern makes any movie better. She’s the perfect choice as the heart-warming and worry-some mother, while Sam Trammel is equally charming as Hazel’s sensitive father. Nat Wolff (2014’s Palo Alto) plays Gus’ best friend Isaac, who recently got both of his eyes removed due to cancer. Just like the book, Wolff’s Isaac is amiable and sweet and I was happy to see that the film included a lot of him since he was a large part of Hazel and Gus’ relationship in the novel.

the fault in our stars 1

Not only is The Fault in Our Stars a love story, it’s a coming of age story that teaches us the importance of family, friendship and that it’s not how many love us, but how we are loved that matters. At one point, Gus says to Hazel that he wants to be remembered and loved by many people so that he can be special, but Hazel reminds him that its more important to be loved deeply than to be loved widely. This theme is great in the novel, but its even more profound in the film.

The Fault in Our Stars will not only delight fans of the book, but will attract new ones as well. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s dedicated performances as Hazel and Gus are pitch perfect and author John Greene couldn’t have wished for two better actors to bring his story to life.

Copyright © 2020 DC Film Girl