John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” is a touching, funny, intelligent and wildly popular young adult novel. The recently released screen adaptation does complete justice to the book.
No, the movie isn’t quite as good as the novel — there are issues with pacing and acting — but it is extremely faithful to its source material (Green was on set for most of the production), and it won’t leave many dry eyes in the theater.
A romance between two teenage cancer patients doesn’t sound like the recipe for a hit, or a lot of fun, but “The Fault in Our Stars” maintains a good sense of humor most of the way and provides some truly three-dimensional characters to engage the audience.
Shailene Woodley (“Divergent”) stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old with terminal cancer who has to carry a portable oxygen tank wherever she goes. Hazel is far too acquainted with her own mortality and accepts what life has given her — though she certainly isn’t happy about it.
Forced by her parents to attend a cancer support group (hilariously helmed by comedian Mike Birbiglia), Hazel meets Augustus (Gus) Waters, an upbeat cancer survivor who lost a leg in his battle.
Played by Woodley’s “Divergent” brother Ansel Elgort, Gus takes an immediate shining toward the flustered Hazel, and a slow-burning romance is born.
The film is funny and tragic and romantic, and Woodley nails the role of Hazel, who yearns for love but considers herself a hand grenade that will eventually destroy all of those around her.
Elgort, unfortunately, isn’t in her class as a performer. He’s tall and good-looking, with a killer smile, but he seems awkward and unnatural at times.
Willem Dafoe adds some heft to the film as Peter Van Houten, a reclusive writer who has written a book that Hazel is obsessed with, which eventually shifts the story all the way to Amsterdam.