BASED on the young adult novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars hits the tear ducts of its target audience like a weep- seeking missile.
However, those who know of the heavy misery that awaits in this movie will also be across the incongruous lightness of touch at work elsewhere in this sincerely affecting affair.
While this teen romance is doomed from the outset – so it goes when your Romeo and Juliet are cancer- crossed lovers – it also prepares its audience for the fall to come with surprising warmth, wit and positivity.
The winning combo of the shamelessly melodramatic and the slyly mischievous that powers The Fault in Our Stars starts and ends with yet another pitch- perfect lead performance from Shailene Woodley ( Divergent).
She plays Hazel, a 17- year- old long diagnosed with stage- four thyroid and lung cancer. It is not a matter of if the disease will claim her. Just a cold, hard case of when.
While Hazel is fully aware time is running out, she is also acutely in tune with what time it is.
GRACE OF MONACO
Therefore, she invariably has a wisecrack at the ready. Sometimes as a defence mechanism for dealing with the pity of others that is always nearby.
After some considerable deliberation – and enduring some insufferably smiley supportgroup therapy sessions to please her worried parents – Hazel drops her guard and permits herself a boyfriend.
His name is Augustus ( Ansel Elgort) and as a recently confirmed cancer survivor, he understands a little bit about what Hazel is going through.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
But not all of it. If Augustus is going to get to know the real Hazel – the confident, insecure, selfless and serenely self- aware Hazel – then he is going to have to truly earn the privilege.
Some viewers ( especially those unfamiliar with the book) are bound to have difficulties warming to the character of Augustus, as Elgort’s semi- smug line delivery can be jarring in the film’s more serious moments.
Again, Woodley is consistently there to pick up any perceived slack. She is the reason it is almost impossible not to become invested in how Hazel and Augustus are travelling as a couple throughout the film.
A sub- plot involving Willem Dafoe playing a famous author based in another country could be another sticking point for uncommitted onlookers.
Nevertheless, what The Fault in Our Stars does well as an engaging and emotionally intense rollercoaster ride, it does very well indeed.