Five minutes into ‘The fault in our stars’, I could already hear a girl mumble the dialogues before they appeared in the film (along with subtitles). I considered shifting my seat to few rows away from him and much to my dismay, two guys sitting a seat away were doing the same.
“Watching on big screen is far more ‘touchy’ than on DVD” said one of them, after twenty odd minutes. While walking out of the auditorium, I realized why they did so. In a world of pirated DVDs, here’s a film people watch again just to experience it on a big screen along with their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends or even parents.
While I am writing this (Let’s not call it a review, I’ve never reviewed films but shared my experiences of watching them), the characters of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters flash in front of my eyes. It might sound far-fetched, but I can see them somewhere behind this rambling of digital ink about a love story of two dying teens sharing eulogies instead of love letters.
Shailene Woodley doesn’t just play the character of Hazel Grace, but lives it, breathes it (with that oxygen pipe under her nose), and believes in it. She plays a young cancer patient spending most of her time attending a Support Group (To please her parents) and reading up ‘An Imperial Affliction’, a novel by Peter Van Houten (Awe-inspiring Willem Dafoe).
She meets Augustus Waters (played to perfection by Ansel Elgort). They eventually fall in love with each other over exchanging novels they adore (A rare happenstance these days). Hazel shares ‘An Imperial Affliction’, while Augustus, called ‘Gus’ in the film shares a graphic novel based on his favourite video game, which is about heroism and courage.
The novel, ‘An Imperial Affliction’ which Hazel reads repeatedly, ends mid-sentence, without revealing the fate of its key characters. Given her limited lifespan, Hazel has little chances of reading the sequel hinted at the novel’s end. The two teenagers correspond with the author and receive an invitation to meet him up in person at Amsterdam.
What transpires later is something that you’d better discover for yourself, and I assure you this one’s no mushy-mushy kind of love story with those heartrending background scores to complement. ‘The fault in our stars’ isn’t a tear-jerker either, and has humour thrown in good measure, thanks to Gus’s friend Issac brilliantly essayed by Nat Wolff. The ‘egg-throwing’ scene is simply hilarious.
Laura Dern, the fabulous actress who plays Hazel’s mom, infuses life in her character, which would have otherwise ended up stereotypically melodramatic. There’s a hospital scene where Hazel is with her parents and the doctor is explaining her condition to them. The inner turmoil of her parents is depicted through a simple yet profound shot, which leaves a lump in the throat. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber surely deserve an applause.
When Hazel and Guz are dining at a plush restaurant in Amsterdam, the steward, while offering them champagne tells them that when champagne was first fermented, its creator exclaimed to his wife, “Look! I’ve bottled up the stars!” The line seems quite befitting for director Josh Boone, who has bottled up the stars in these 126 minutes. Take a bow sir.
The film’s name is inspired from Shakespeare’s play ‘Julius Caesar’, where Cassius says to Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Well, I’d sum up ‘almost’ quoting the Bard, “If we choose to ignore such films for zero-brainers and hundred-crore earners, the fault, dear folks, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”