Review of The Fault In Our Stars
Once or twice a year, I find myself reading a YA novel, it's one of those guilty pleasures I allow myself from time to time. Last year, I read The Hunger Games trilogy, which I devoured in two weeks, and by chance since it was highly recommended by cultural gurus such as Reasonable Discussions (the disappeared podcast by the AV Club) The Fault In Our Stars. It was a book about kids with cancer, yes, but no, the story had something different that thankfully made it a best-seller. I can think of much worse YA novels to end up in teenagers’ hands. At least this one featured teenagers I could relate to, as the teenager I once was and as an adult.
The Fault In Our Stars movie adaptation shared a problem with The Hunger Games trilogy, how to accept actors incarnating characters that have been so emotionally close to me as a reader? As a teenager, I read The Outsiders avidly, cried like never before with a book and identified amazingly well with Sodapop, a character I had nothing in common but the awkwardness of being a teenager. When reading about Katniss Everdeen and Hazel Grace Lancaster they became those perfect heroines I never had in my teens. In my thirties I felt them as fully developed characters, and went inside their heads as much as I once did with Sodapop’s.
The young adult genre is as rich as irregular, and I can say I still enjoy approaching some titles every so often. What I found more interesting and refreshing about both novels were these strong female characters with driven, who pull their weight and make these stories so inspiring. John Green's story had a unique tone, a little something that I thought difficult to transfer to a movie. Hazel and specially Augustus are so unique, so well rounded and charming that I thought no cast choice would feel right.
My admiration goes to Shailene Woodley, who became Hazel on screen and on the off screen narration, so easy to mess up by over or under acting. I have my reservations about the choice for Gus, because, come on, who is so charming at that age? And, how difficult is to shape a quality as abstract as charm? Augustus has so much more depth in the book, but isn't it because we magnify his charm to our taste while reading?
There is one thing that bothered me about the movie, well, no the movie itself, but its marketing campaign. The movie posters show, instead of the usual magazine quotes, random tweets about the movie by even more random people. If I am correct this has been done before for some other movies marketed to teenagers, and I can’t think of a worse way to discredit a film. I went to see the movie, because I enjoyed the novel by John Green, but I wonder how many people will be discouraged by this. I imagine “OMG, I love TFIOS so much!! But I cried like a baby!” is not going to convince many people to go and see the movie. But, although there might be some crying involved, I certainly recommend it, as much as the book.