The unwillingness of a movie to bend for premature respect from easily fooled moviegoers is a trait that makes it stand out. Josh Boone-directed “The Fault in our Stars” is a major motion picture, and while it still has plenty of inauthentic shades of histrionic fervor, it manages to present an uncontrived plot treatment and characters that feel real albeit a little too likeable to draw a connection from. Shailene Woodley takes her character from “The Spectacular Now” and harnesses it to maturity and replaces its ultra(dumb)niceness with sharpness, and borrows the unflinching but vulnerable strength of her character from “The Descendants.” She delivered awesome as always.
The movie could use some more despondency as it is a little too bright even in its dramatic scenes, but I suspect it’s deliberately that way to fend for the target demographic. It’s a small issue, and doesn’t really affect the overall movie that much, so it’s okay. I guess. Maybe.
“You are a side effect of an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation.”
I have a thing for cynicism more than the tear-jerking stuff that I must admit I also have a soft spot for. While bawling in the movies makes me feel good on the inside, it’s the face-slapping truths that give grounding and a clearer perspective on a version of humanity that is untethered by chains of sentimentality and cinema magic. The quote above is from novelist Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) — directed mean-spiritedly at cancer-stricken Hazel (Woodley). The scene makes you want to gut Peter, but what he said has stuck with me even after leaving the theater. I don’t want to think I’m grasping at straws by saying it doesn’t apply only to people diagnosed with grave illnesses. I believe we are all literally and metaphorically under repair, and the world doesn’t really give a shit if we drop off the face of the earth in the process. Nothing is ever personal and as Gus puts it, “the world is not a wish-granting factory”, so we should stop being so fucking sensitive. The movie is a good cry-fest, but the skepticism found in some characters pushes it a step further from the teen flicks that are plagued by schmaltz and coming-of-age contrivances.