Review: The Fault in Our Stars

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Some infinities may be bigger than other infinities but love overcomes all odds. Undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated films of 2014, The Fault in Our Stars certainly lived up to the hype when it premiered this week.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (played by Shailene Woodley) and Augustus "Gus" Waters (played by Ansel Elgort) are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

The film, based on the New York Times #1 bestselling novel of the same name by John Green, brought tears to the eyes of many — tears of laughter, tears of anguish and tears of heartbreak. While the movie is notably different from the book, it's a good kind of different that not only brings the characters and the story to life but also gives fans who have already read the book something new to look forward to. For example, Hazel's best friend Kaitlyn is non-existent in the film and neither is Augustus' ex-girlfriend Caroline Mathers. Isaac doesn't have as much screen time as expected and Augustus does not say, "You used to call me Augustus." Several pivotal scenes were eliminated from the movie in order to focus on the Hazel and Augustus romance, which was great but the lack of side plots made the show a little cheesy.

The first half of the movie is generally light-hearted — Hazel's sense of humour and Augustus' adorable actions will make you laugh and squeal in delight. Picking a favourite scene is hard but I would have to say the scene where Isaac (played by Nat Wolff) cries in Augustus' basement after breaking up with his girlfriend and starts breaking Augustus' trophies was my favourite. The scene where Augustus takes a plane for the first time comes in a close second. Be that as it may, Hazel's flashbacks to the time she almost died of cancer at age fourteen early in the movie will tug on the ol' heartstrings a little as viewers get a deeper insight of her illness and how she feels about it.

The second half of the movie is when the waterworks begin. When Augustus breaks some heartbreaking news to Hazel, their love for each other is put to the test when cancer rears its ugly head. No relationship is perfect and there's a little trouble in paradise when Hazel gets fed up with Augustus' attitude and chides him for it. Thank goodness for that — their romance would otherwise seem very unrealistic. Tears, tears and more tears will flow as the movie progresses and by the end of the film, you would probably feel like your entire world had collapsed. The movie, told from Hazel's point of view, will take you through a roller coaster of emotions that unfortunately, doesn't only go up.

Shailene Woodley may not be what fans imagined Hazel to look like and Ansel Elgort may not be what fans imagined Augustus to look like but when you watch the film, you'll find that these physical differences are easy to ignore because Shailene Woodley is Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort is Augustus Waters. They are the only two actors who can play Hazel and Augustus because they portray these two fictional characters so realistically, you'll never believe that they are just actors portraying characters in a movie. For a Hollywood newcomer, Ansel's performance in The Fault in Our Stars was exceptional and I can foresee many great things for this young actor.

As someone who almost always hates the film adaptations of her favourite books, I thoroughly enjoyed the big screen rendition of The Fault in Our Stars. It's hilarious, romantic, angsty and devastating all rolled into one. To see this novel, which has made a monumental impact on my life as well as the lives of countless others, come to life on the big screen was a surreal experience. The chemistry between Hazel and Augustus was virtually palpable and I must commend the casting choices for this film — I honestly can't imagine anyone else filling the roles of Hazel, Augustus, Mr. & Mrs. Lancaster, Isaac, Peter Van Houten, Lidewij et al.

The Fault in Our Stars starts its run in Singapore theatres on Jun 19, 2014. Everyone needs to watch this movie (and read the book if you haven't already) — it will change your life. Okay? Okay.

The Fault in Our Stars4.5 out of 5

Bonus section for die-hard fans (Spoiler Alert)

The Fault in Our Stars fans, wait up — we're not done yet! If you've already read the book, this section is just for you. You can take this to the cinema with you as a little check-list of differences between the book and movie to look out for, in chronological order.

1. When Hazel and Augustus first met, he wasn't staring at her in the room the cancer support group took place. Instead, he bumped into her in the lobby of the church just before she attended the support group session.

2. In the book, Hazel and Augustus are stopped from going to the basement to watch a movie by Augustus' parents, who insist that they watch it in the living room. In the movie, they just head straight down to the basement and watch the movie there.

3. Augustus tells Hazel that he's a virgin while they're walking in the park together instead of over the phone, and he drew the Venn diagram for her instead of asking her to draw it.

4. The Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing Set that Seeks the Butts of Children from the book makes an appearance in the film but Hazel and Augustus did not put it up for sale online unlike what they did in the book.

5. Hazel doesn't visit Isaac after his eye surgery in the movie but she did in the book. I'm slightly disappointed by the lack of Isaac appearances in the film, to be honest.

6. In the book, Hazel and her mum drive over to Augustus' house to pick him up on the way to the airport, only to find him screaming at his parents. In the film, Augustus picks Hazel and her mum up in style in a limousine with an unlit cigarette in his mouth.

7. Hazel screams the F-word at Peter Van Houten while leaving his house in Amsterdam in the movie. In the book, Hazel never says the F-word.

8. "I'm in love with you": Augustus professes his love for Hazel at the fancy restaurant in Amsterdam instead of on the plane to Amsterdam.

9. Augustus tells Hazel about the return of his cancer on a park bench in Amsterdam and not in Hazel's hotel room. And they make out afterwards.

10. The scene where Augustus pissed his bed was not in the movie, which was unfortunate because that was the scene that really showed how vulnerable and weak Augustus had become since his cancer spread.

11. Movie: "Hazel Grace, do you happen to have five dollars?" Book: "Hazel Grace, do you have four dollars?" Inflation, perhaps? I mean, the book was published in 2012 and the movie was filmed in 2013...

12. During the scene where Hazel, Augustus and Isaac egged Monica's car, Augustus jokes about Isaac's blindness, saying that it's always dark to Isaac. Isaac takes offense to this statement. In the book, this joke never happens.

13. Apart from his parents, Augustus' family doesn't exist in the movie.

14. Hazel did not remove her oxygen tube to have some alone time with Augustus' dead body at the funeral. In fact, his coffin was left closed during his funeral in the movie and all she did was place a pack of cigarettes on his coffin.

15. After Augustus' death, Hazel doesn't go to Augustus' house and climb into his unmade bed (which she did in the book). Not much happens after his death, really.

16. Speaking of the email, the movie saved Hazel the trouble of finding it and instead, Peter Van Houten passed it to her when he crawled into her car right after Augustus' funeral.

17. Peter Van Houten never explains about his daughter, which makes me feel bad for him because people who didn't read the book would think of him as a villain instead of just a victimised man who takes his anger out on everyone around him.

18. Isaac doesn't complain about being blind at all in the movie.

19. Hazel and Augustus do not correspond with Peter Van Houten via email as much as they did in the book.

20. Kaitlyn, Hazel's best friend from the book, does not appear and is not mentioned in the movie at all.

21. In the film, Augustus never brings up Caroline Mathers, his ex-girlfriend who passed away of cancer in the book.

22. Augustus never says the line "You used to call me Augustus", which I feel was a pivotal moment in the book which showed that his cancer did not bring them closer but instead, caused them to drift apart.

Of course, there are many more differences between the book and the movie — if you know of any more, feel free to leave some in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.

P/S: Augustus is still a terrible driver in the movie.

Photo credits: Twentieth Century Fox

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