I first read The Fault in Our Stars when it came out two years ago, and I’ll be honest here, I really liked it. I read it in one sitting, allowing breaks for tears, and felt I finally got the whole John Green mania that I hadn’t felt since I read Looking for Alaska at age sixteen. However, in the years that have followed I guess I’ve gotten over the whole teenage love thing, or had my heart turn to stone, because the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars did nothing for me. For a book that I couldn’t put down, the TFiOS movie sure did bore me. All I could think of throughout this film was that I wished I was watching it on Netflix so I could pause it and switch to an episode of The Office or something to make my brain interested in being alive again. It was so mind numbing that I didn’t even care when I missed some dramatic love reveal when I went on my allotted bathroom break.
The time gaps in the film felt lazy to me, and I didn’t really know if a day had passed, or even a week or a month. The problem is that I haven’t touched the book since it came out, so I can’t really talk about how much of a faithful adaptation it was. This means that I don’t know if I should be blaming shoddy filmmaking or John Green’s writing for the parts of the film I didn’t like. The pacing just felt off to me. I wish I could think of a more eloquent way to describe it, but that’s the only word coming to mind. Nothing in the movie felt real to me. The lack of chemistry between Hazel and Gus was glaringly apparent throughout the film and I found it really hard to believe that they were ‘soooo in loooooove’. Everything was just so dramatic. Real people don’t act like that. I mean, I knew that Hazel and Gus were pretentious little shits in the book but it really was something else in the film. From the first moment they met when they were staring at each other with creepy arched eyebrows I knew that I wasn’t going to like this pairing. Speaking of eyebrows, every time there was a closeup of Shailene Woodley’s face I had to look away; terrible eyebrows make me cringe. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision from the makeup department or if that’s just what Woodley’s eyebrows look like, but it was very distracting. Mainly I think I was just trying to pick faults with this film. Eyebrows included.
I will admit to liking some aspects of the film; Shailene Woodley was okay when she wasn’t being emotionally dead inside with Ansel Elgort. I really liked Nat Wolff’s performance, his chemistry with Elgort was so believable I think that maybe he should have played Hazel. The adults in the movie pretty much made the film for me; Willem Dafoe as van Houten, Laura Dern as Hazel’s mum (I love you, Dr Sattler!), and Sam Trammell as Hazel’s dad (hottest person in the film, even when he’s not running around naked in Bon Temps) were all excellent and I wish they had more screen time. They didn’t though, because this film was made to appeal to teenagers. Particularly the type of teenagers who worship John Green like a god, the ones who think he’s still a hidden gem nobody outside of YouTube has heard of, and feel like they’re so artsy and intelligent because of this. The film was the perfect embodiment of that– it looked like every teenage rom com in the past five years had thrown up on it. Bright colours, choppy editing, and a character narration messing with the linear timeline of the film don’t make a great cinematic masterpiece– it’s been done before and it will be done again and I’m already really bored of it. But I guarantee that the minions of this book will be demanding it wins an Oscar.
I dread to think how many teenagers have rudely started sucking each other’s faces in the Anne Frank house thanks to this book, and how many more will do it because of the film. First the Justin Bieber incident, now this. Maybe I would have liked this movie more when I was eighteen, or maybe age has not thing to do with it and I would have found it average at best then too. Going to see it wasn’t a total waste though, I did get a big coke and a nice sandwich.
I give this movie 2/5 stars. It’s probably worth watching on TV but I don’t recommend wasting your money on it. I definitely should have gone to see Maleficent.