Sunday, June 8, 2014

"The Fault in Our Stars" (the movie)

I dragged dh to see the movie version of "The Fault in Our Stars" this afternoon. I had read the book about a year ago, in the summer of 2013, and reviewed it for Mel's GRAB(ook) Club, here, and was looking forward to seeing the cinematic version.

It was opening weekend & I was afraid the theatre would be crawling with teenaged girls. Surprisingly, it wasn't crawling (it WAS early Sunday afternoon), but the audience WAS mostly teenaged girls -- including an entire rowful, a few rows ahead of us -- feet up on the seats in front of them, cellphones in hand, a few of them wearing "Okay? Okay." T-shirts. . A couple of teenaged boys arrived just before the show started & sat right behind them, kicking the seats & generally being annoying. Aside from a chorus of giggles & sniffles in the appropriate places, though, they (fortunately) weren't too disruptive and the comic relief was a nice balance between the sad story that unfolded on screen. (We were probably the oldest people in the theatre, though -- erk!!) 

"I think you & I cried more than they did," dh commented. (He liked it!)

"That's because we can relate both as former teenagers AND as parents facing the imminent loss of a child," I pointed out. When Laura Dern, as Hazel's mother (!!), reassures Hazel that "I will ALWAYS be your mother" (even after Hazel dies, as she surely will), we held hands a little tighter.

I generally find movie adaptations of the books I love disappointing... but I'm happy to say this mostly lived up to my expectations & hopes, moreso than most movie adaptations do. The acting is uniformly superb, particularly from Shailene Woodley, who I'm willing to bet has an Oscar somewhere in her future (she was already nominated for her role as George Clooney's daughter in "The Descendants"). Ansel Elgort as Gus is a real charmer;  it is easy to see why Hazel falls for him. Amsterdam was magical. I shed almost as many tears during the scenes in Anne Frank House as I did during Isaac & Hazel's eulogies. I found the initial support group scenes even funnier than they read in the book.

There are a few things missing in translation from the book to the movie. Gus's parents don't get much screentime;  his sisters are entirely absent, as is Hazel's friend Caitlin, and a lot of the poetry that I loved in the book is missing. Hazel's backyard swingset is there and then it's gone at the end, without explanation.  The important stuff was all there, though.

The one jarring note for me is that I had pictured Van Houten's assistant as a middle-aged, motherly woman. Here, she's young and extremely pretty. And speaks excellent, almost completely unaccented English. It wasn't bad, just something I didn't expect.

So you have two thumbs up from me & dh. Go and see it (but you really should read the book first). And take Kleenex -- you'll need it.


  1. I hadn't read the book yet but I went to see this today with my best friend. It was such a beautiful story, so much sweetness but also so much sadness. I was crying. It really just lingers with you too!

    I'm going to get my hands on the book now.

  2. Ooooh, you may convince me. I've really been dragging my feet on it. I like movies from books when I haven't read the book. And I like movies from books when I really want to see the setting (such as LOTR). But movies from books I've read and enjoyed... that's hard. Because the chances to get it right twice seem slim. But if you've given it two thumbs up...

  3. Thank you for the review.
    I haven't see the movie yet. But I did read the book and loved it.

  4. Guess I need to read the book then! Thanks for the review and encouragement.

  5. Looking forward to seeing it! I would say that in me experience, the Dutch have impeccable American English - they seem to have more of an American accent than any other country in Europe (they usually speak the Queen's English), so that makes sense to me :)