The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Every so often, you see a movie that makes you want to fall in love all over again.
Unfortunately for me, The Fault in Our Stars was not it.
The movie, based on the novel of the same name by John Green, follows starcrossed lovers Hazel (Shailene Woodley)and Augustus (Ansel Elgort), and they have cancer.
I can’t describe the plot beyond that quite simply because there was none. Our two leads just went about various cliched romantic adventures in more or less the least interesting way possible.
The lack of a real plot wouldn’t have hurt as much had Augustus not had all the personality of a Pop Tart. His character was constructed almost entirely of one-liners that demonstrated how “witty” he was. Despite having hardly any time onscreen, I thought his brother Isaac (Nat Wolff) was a much, much more interesting character. Isaac was a fellow cancer patient, and we learn he was experiencing problems even outside of his health. I had an easier time relating to Isaac than I did to Augustus because Isaac actually reacted to problems the way a human being would.
Part of the problem with Augustus’ character was that we saw him through Hazel’s eyes the entire time, and thus we never learned anything about him beyond what Hazel could see. As Hazel is the narrator of a romantic novel written for teenage girls a la Bella from Twilight, Augustus was this perfect man in Hazel’s eyes. Granted, Hazel was a more interesting character than Bella, if that’s saying anything at all.
I know female audience members may have bawled their eyes out. It’s quite simply due to some very cold, calculated decisions John Green made to play on readers’ emotions. It was almost as if he was solving an equation to optimize the story for sappiness. Despite not having read the book, I haven’t felt like a movie was trying this hard to manipulate me in a very long time. The movie showed John Green is a careful writer, which is more than I can say about director Josh Boone.
The Fault in Our Stars is Josh Boone’s second movie as a director and it shows. Many scenes had the camera focusing on characters’ faces and were completely overwhelmed by the movie’s indie pop soundtrack. I never got a chance to quietly take something in. I was convinced the movie thought I would get bored if I didn’t constantly hear music. A significant portion of the movie took place in Amsterdam, but the movie made it really easy for me to forget that fact. The fact that all the allegedly Dutch characters spoke fluent English helped matters little. The movie revealed Boone has basically no maturity as a director.
I will admit as a 23-year-old guy, I was very much not in this movie’s target demographic. That doesn’t change the fact that The Fault in Our Stars demonstrated that American filmmakers still haven’t a clue how to make a good “slice of life”-type movie, which the French and Japanese mastered a very long time ago. I hated how the movie was trying too hard to jerk tears for characters (played by actors delivering rather hammy performances) I simply didn’t care about.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll stand by my inbox as angry girls flood it with hate mail.