I almost ruined watching The Fault In Our Stars for myself. I finished reading John Green’s book two days before I watched Josh Boone’s adaptation of the story – and had Boone’s filming of the funny-sad novel been anything less than spot-on, I could easily have found myself in TFIOS overload.
But luckily, Boone’s handling of the tale – as gentle and poignant as it is moving and upsetting – was delicate and modern; a bitter pill coated with a sweet nature.
The story follows terminal cancer sufferer Hazel, who meets the charismatic Augustus Walters at a cancer support group. Augustus is there to support his friend Isaac; Gus is a cancer survivor, who had his leg removed in order to treat his illness.
Hazel and Augustus fall in love; “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once” observes Hazel, who at first fights her feelings, citing herself as a ‘hand grenade’, terrified of breaking Gus’s heart with her feelings. But the story takes, as is the way, a tragic twist – tissues at the ready, people.
Unlike the book, the film glosses over Hazel’s mild obsession with Gus’s ex-girlfriend (who died of a brain tumour) and is mercifully scant in its depiction of Gus’s own decline. Shailene Woodley is sparky as heroine Hazel, whose sarcastic, bright-eyed take on dying is as moving as it is amusing; Ansel Elgort is perfectly cast as the charming, utterly gorgeous Augustus.
As the film came to an end at the cinema, almost everyone in the auditorium was sobbing. Out loud, unashamedly – the mark of a film that has successfully effected an audience of young and old, male and female, alike. I wouldn’t recommend reading the book in such close proximity to watching the movie; although this is a story that is just as poignant however you discover it.
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is available to buy on Amazon here.