It’s always tricky to convert a beloved book into a film. Thankfully, The Fault in Our Stars doesn’t disappoint—mostly due to the casting of Hazel and Gus.
From the first glimpse of Hazel (Shailene Woodley from Divergent), you know she is perfect for the part. Although she’s not take-your-breath-away beautiful, you love her more for that. She’s tough yet sensitive; sarcastic, yet vulnerable; nonchalant, yet scared to show her true emotions. Enter Gus (Ansel Elgort, also from Divergent): the whole theater swooned when he came into the frame, but at first I was disappointed. Gus didn’t match my image of a really hot Gus. But as the movie progressed my opinion quickly changed. Ansel charmed me with his ability to give off Gus’s smirks, his frankness, and his self-confidence. He stole myheart during the scene at the gas station, when Gus calls Hazel for help. The helplessness, so visible on his face, and the crackling of his pleading voice wrenched my heart—only a talented actor could play such a dynamic character and still keep true to who Gus is.
Every pivotal scene from the book is depicted: Gus, ironically dangling an unlit cigarette from his lips; Hazel, achingly climbing the endless stairs in the Anne Frank house. The little moments—Gus and Hazel exchanging texts—Hazel and her parents eating dinner—all of them complete the story and make it relatable without seeming false and trite. There are moments of pure humor that do not distract from the reality of the bleak fate the two teenagers have, but rather highlight the life they are able to spend together.
Although the movie centers on the budding relationship between Hazel and Gus, the relationship between Hazel and her parents should not be overlooked. The choice casting of Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster (Sam Trammell and Laura Dern), their portrayal of parents, who might lose their daughter forever, is heartbreaking to watch—but their strength to support their daughter leaves you smiling through the tears.
My only criticism with the movie is the music used in the last scene. The last scene is supposed to be uplifting as it delivers a message about life and how to live a life, but I found the music to be a bit cheesy with the loud, crashing crescendos. Despite the one flaw in the music choice (the rest of it is superb), this is one movie to go watch—just don’t forget the tissues.