‘The Fault In Our Stars’ Proves That Pain Demands To Be Felt

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by Nadin P.

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” – Augustus Waters 

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Can we just pause for a moment and acknowledge the fact that John Green is made of magic? The thing about him is that he took YA genre and turned it into something that’s making difference, and that’s… well, that’s huge.

I’m always cautions when it comes to adaptations of any kind, especially after several latest most notable failures that made it pretty clear that it doesn’t take much to ruin a perfectly good story (re Winter’s Tale and Vampire Academy), which is why the fuss over The Fault In Our Stars left me slightly uneasy. It’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to it… But yeah, I guess I kind of wasn’t. Not after Vampire Academy that made me lose my faith in humanity and made me want to start punching thing.

In which case I am absolutely delighted to say that that The Fault In Our Stars exceeded all of my possible expectations and chased away the fears for the time being. I can’t even begin to say how good this film is, all things considered.

The Fault In Our Stars is a story of a 16-year old Hazel Grace Lancaster suffering from thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. Upon her mother’s request, Hazel join support group for cancer patients where she meets Augustus Waters, a former cancer patient who attends the meetings with his friend Isaac. Hazel and Gus’s friendship progresses quickly, and after reading Hazel’s favorite book An Imperial Affliction that ends midsentence, literary, because the main character dies, Augusts gets in contact with the writer Peter Van Houten who is currently residing in Amsterdam. Through the charitable organizations grating the ‘wishes’ to the kids with cancer, Augustus arranges a trip to Amsterdam for Hazel and himself to go and get the answers about the ambiguous ending of said book since Van Houten refuses to reveal anything via email.

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Shortly afterwards, Hazel has an incident and has to be rushed to the ICU when her lungs fill with fluid. The trip abroad is not recommended but with the support of her parents, Hazel gets one of her doctors to agree to grant her the permission to fly over to Amsterdam after all. Much to the young people’s distress, Peter Van Houten turns out being a very unpleasant and begrudged drunk who refuses to speak about the book and order Gus and Hazel to leave. Feeling guilty over such turn of events, Peter’s assistant takes them on a sightseeing tour around Amsterdam and they visit Anne Frank’s house.

Later, Gus reveals to Hazel that while she was at the hospital, he had a body scan and found out that his cancer had come back and spread all over his body. At this point nothing can be done for him.

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They return back home but nothing is the same. Augustus goes from charming and witty to a very scared young man who doesn’t want to die but who also knows that the end is near. In the last attempt to stick to his former self, he asks Hazel and Isaac to write his obituaries and read them to him at the church so that he could ‘attend his own funeral’. Several days later he dies.

Much to Hazel’s surprise, Peter Van Houten attends the funeral and later reveals that Anna – the girl from the book – was the name of his daughter who died from cancer at young age. He tells Hazel that he and Gus stayed in contact for a while before his death and that he has something for her. Angry and bitter about their first encounter, Hazel kicks him out of her car. She doesn’t think much of it until Isaac tells her that the letter wasn’t from Van Houten but from Gus.

In the last days before his death, Gus decided to return the favor and write an obituary for Hazel.

Which made the entire theatre cry…

Directed by Josh Boone and starring Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters, The Fault In Our Stars was, in my humble opinion, a definite and undeniable success. The film remained true to the book and it undoubtedly succeeded in transcending the atmosphere, originally created by Green – something he is particularly known for.

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Due to its subject matter, the film is often emotional and heartbreaking, thus making occasional quips and witty one-liners particularly treasured. The audience sure appreciate those small moments of relief that make the film a little less hard on you. All in all, it’s very human, and, just like Green’s written work, it never fails to convey the fears and hopes of people who know they’re most likely going to die very soon.

That said, I was shocked to find out that the negative perception among the people who did not read the book was due to the fact that they thought the story was romanticizing cancer.

Which is absolutely ridiculous. How can you possibly romanticize something that’s killing you, anyway?

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Would anyone have said that My Sister’s Keeper romanticizes cancer as well? Or A Walk To Remember? I doubt that. And just because The Fault In Our Stars happens to focus on two young people in love instead of being a family drama doesn’t make it any less tragic or any more romantic. It’s a story about struggle and death and living one day at time when all else is too much to bear.

Sadly, it’s hard to blame the audience for being cautious, what with Twilight romanticizing abusive and co-dependent relationship, thus ruining everything. I do hope, however, that those people will give The Fault In Our Stars a chance to prove them wrong. Personally, I had my doubts as well, especially after the interview in which Shailene Woodley said that she wasn’t a feminist because she loved men (which is not how feminism works), which made me doubtful about her. Fingers crossed, someone explained her the difference since.

But – it’s not exactly the point.

All things considered, the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars was solid and I want to believe that John Green was proud of the end product. If you like a good cryfest, decent storyline and a killer soundtrack, you will fall in love with The Fault In Our Stars the way you fall asleepslowly, and then all at once.

A coffee junkie and a passionate traveler, Nadin is in love with all things writing – because who wants to live in the real world, anyway? TV or films – everything needs to be fast paced and dramatic. Scary? Even better! A vampire at heart, she can always be found in her cave, glued to her laptop. As a dedicated yogi and someone who can easily hike all the way to Alaska, Nadin thinks she’s the unhealthiest healthy person ever – because pizza, duh? She strongly believes that live needs to be lived, so… walk away from whatever makes you sad and make things happen!

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