Hollywood has certainly enjoyed the commercial success lately of films adapted from young adult novels.
The Fault In Our Stars
Hollywood has certainly enjoyed the commercial success lately of films adapted from young adult novels. Titles including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner (coming later this year) all have teens lining up in droves to watch their favorite characters come to life on the big screen. There is an engaging energy and excitement that this age group brings that means big bucks to the studios. The main difference with The Fault In Our Stars is that missing are the post-apocalyptic settings, fearless heroines, and society’s thrown in chaos. Instead it is a simple story of young love, emotional entanglements, and the desire to live a life that counts; regardless of how short it may be.
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two teenagers that for the most part would never stand out in a crowd. In fact their lives may never have crossed at all except for a chance meeting in a cancer support group. They both suffer from different forms of the disease and in various stages. Gus tends to face his illness head on with a sardonic wit and view of life that is charming and addictive. Hazel is a bit more subdued and reserved about her condition and how she survives. They both have supportive families and a network of friends but it is this one common thread of immortality that draws them together. As they fall in love there is that realism that this can’t last. That fate has the last word. This causes them to make decisions and live a life in the moment that other teens can wait years for.
Based on the popular YA novel by John Green the story is one that is touching, emotional, and at times garishly funny. Certainly aimed at the younger demographic the film uses pretty, young, up and coming actors to lure in fans of the book. In a sea of action fueled films it takes a chance with story lines and dialogue that are derived from angst more than arrows. It is confident that the characters and life situations are enough to solidify its place in the grand scheme of things. And rightly so. Teen girls, especially those who have read the book, will be instantly grafted to Hazel and her struggle. They will take each breath with her and feel every ounce of passion she has for loving and living.
Parents will appreciate it but from a different perspective. The thought of watching your child go through an illness is debilitating all on its own. Older viewers will understand the young love aspect but not abide it as whole heartedly. This is not their film and even though many will relate they will more than likely have forgotten how that first infatuation felt. Still it is a wonderful option for a mother daughter outing if nothing else to kindle discussion about life and how fleeting it sometimes feels. They can laugh and cry, though maybe for different reasons, together for a short spell.
Woodley and Elgort are splendid together on screen. Working together on the Divergent film may have had something to do with their chemistry and ease of acting. You believe their story and feel their emotion. They hold nothing back, Woodley especially, and give it all to the role and characters. It is this dedication to the part that will make younger viewers even more impressed by what they see.
The Fault In Our Stars is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language. Many parents may find the subject matter a bit heavy and the decisions made by the characters too adult for their younger more impressionable teens. It might be smart to call this a 16 and older film. If your child has read the book or if you have a chance to talk about it before hand that might make it easier. Again the two characters opt to go further in their relationship than parents will be comfortable with. You can weigh that against their circumstances or not. Regardless be aware that those elements are here. It is hard as an adult male to fairly rate this film. It is wonderfully written with intelligent casting. I could appreciate the emotion and never found it to be manipulative or sensationalized. I can easily understand the gravity of the story and how young teen girls would latch on to it. So for them it is a fabulous film for sure.