Thursday, October 30, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

sniff
sniffle
wipe away a tear
let loose with a sob

Y


Yes, it's a two-hankie movie today: The Fault In Our Stars (2014, PG-13, Available On DVD).



This movie got a lot of attention. It's based on a young adult novel, which I haven't read, and it's a tearjerker. I was afraid it would be sappy. It isn't. I didn't cry while I watched it, but I felt moved. It's tender and poignant and happy in a way that most stories can't possibly be happy.

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) meet in a cancer support group for teens. They know they're going to die.

Augustus Waters: What's your name?
Augustus Waters: No, your full name
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Hazel Grace Lancaster

Gus calls his new friend Hazel Grace. She insists they are just friends. Her cancer has expanded from her thyroid into her lungs, so she carries an oxygen tank everywhere she goes.

Augustus (Gus) was an athlete. He had to have a leg amputated because of cancer. Gus has a cocky joie de vivre that brings out the best in everyone around him. He likes to keep an unlit cigarette in his mouth. The sight of Gus with a cigarette in his mouth made me smile from the start.

Hazel Grace Lancaster: Really? That's disgusting!
Hazel Grace Lancaster: What? Do you think that is cool? Or something? You just ruined the whole thing.
Augustus Waters: The whole thing?
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Yes, this whole thing.
Hazel Grace Lancaster: Even though you have freaking cancer, you are willing to give money to a corporation for a chance to acquire even more cancer? Let me just assure you that not being able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally.
Augustus Waters: They don't kill you unless you light them. And I've never lit one. It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing. A metaphor. 

Hazel and Gus agree to read each other's favorite novels. Hazel gives Gus An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe). The books means a great deal to Hazel. Its plot is similar to her experiences. She longs to ask the author some questions about his book. Gus arranges a visit for them with Van Houten, who has become a recluse in Amsterdam. While they are in Amsterdam, they visit the Anne Frank house. Anne Frank, of course, was doomed, just as Hazel and Gus are.

Gus and Hazel have a bond that continues to develop. Gus knows he's in love with Hazel Grace, and eventually, she realizes she loves him, too. 

Hazel Grace Lancaster: I fell in love with him the way you fall asleep: Slowly, and then all at once.

Woodley and Elgort play their parts naturally and with seemingly little effort. The screenplay is excellent. Laura Dern deserves a shout out for playing Hazel's mom. 

My favorite funny scene is when Hazel and Gus, with Gus's friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), egg Isaac's former girlfriend's house. 

Augustus Waters: Hello, are you Monica's mother?
Monica's Mom: I am...
Augustus Waters: Hello, ma'am. Your daughter, she's done a great injustice, so we've come here seeking revenge. You see, we may not look like much, but between the three of us we have five legs, four eyes and two and a half pairs of working lungs, but we also have two dozen eggs, so if I were you, I would go back inside.
[Monica's mother looks freaked and goes back inside]
Isaac: Did... That actually worked?
Isaac: That was the stupidest speech I've ever... That actually worked?


I feel as if I took part in their experiences, which makes the story a great example of writing that can convey feelings most of us never have.

A few bits of trivia: 

  1. Don't look for An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. It's a made-up book within a book.
  2. When Gus and Hazel visit the Anne Frank House, they're on a set that recreates the house. The Frank House did not allow filming.
  3. Some of the details from the book have been changed, according to online sources.
I wouldn't show this movie to children. Teens? They might wallow in grief, or laugh at the absurdity of a couple getting together when they know they will die. That's my way of saying that I have no idea how teens will react to the movie, but a lot of them have read the book on which it's based.

This movie is difficult to describe. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. It's unique, and that's a word I don't use lightly.

The Fault In Our Stars earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Hazel Grace Lancaster: But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.







38 comments:

  1. When I read this book, it was sweet and engaging...but I finished with the thought that the "fault in [their] stars" was that they had no hope of anything beyond death. If you're a believer, that is very sad, especially in young people who desperately need hope.

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    1. That's a good point, and something I didn't notice.

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  2. Hi Janie - I hope you're snivelling over the film and don't have a stinky cold just in time for Halloween - enjoy the weekend of spookiness - Hilary

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    1. I'm not sniveling at all, Hilary. I'm fine.

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  3. Hi Janie - I'm inclined to agree with Cherdo. The last quote from Hazel Grace is bittersweet. I really appreciate your post; I haven't read the book or viewed the movie. I hope to do one or both!

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    1. I'm sure I'll read the book at some point.

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  4. I don't know. While your taste is pretty on-point, I don't know if I can emotionally handle a cancer story. Because of the ubiquity of cancer and how many people it affects, including my personal experience with it and fears of it, I don't know if I can handle an entire movie dancing on those memories and fears.

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    1. Hmmmm. I understand, but I have to say the movie didn't depress me. These characters stand up to cancer and find fun in what they have left.

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  5. I am drawn to movies that mix humor with pathos. I will add this one to my watch list. Thank you!

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  6. My 15 year old granddaughter and her friends devoured the book, then the movie, then the very large book of biographical and autobiographical information on the young woman on whom Hazel Grace is based. I limited myself to the book.

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  7. Janie, I've seen this movie and really enjoyed it as well. The writing in that last quote is really wonderful. Cherdo has a point for sure in that there appears to be no hope beyond this life. I didn't think about it that way during the movie.

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    1. I didn't, either. I enjoyed the characters enjoying everything they could. The writing is beautiful.

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  8. Excellent review, but I don't think I could watch this one. I just discovered Shailene Woodley. You are so right, natural is the word to describe her. I saw her in Divergent and The Spectacular Now. She was wonderful.

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  9. My daughter has seen this movie several times, and loves it. She told me not to watch it though, because she knows I will cry.

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    1. I did not cry, but if I had, it would be okay. It would be cathartic.

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  10. Oh man we just watched this with our daughter. I got to say I never read the book so I didn't know what to expect. Totally agree, not sappy at all and by the end I think we were all a little teary. Great movie.

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  11. I've been avoiding this film because I avoid all things sad. Life offers enough of it. Yes, I love a happy, fake bubble. But I am a believer in life after this trek on earth, so maybe I will check it out since you gave it such high praise.

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    1. Elizabeth, they don't talk about being together after they die, nor about the life after death in which I believe. Yet the movie did not depress me. For the most part, it lifted me up because of the great acting and writing. I can picture Gus and Hazel Grace going to Heaven, even if they didn't expect it.

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  12. I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but it sounds intriguing. I would have liked these very much as a teenager. I have gotten to visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. That was a gut-wrenching and powerful experience. I'll have to watch for the movie. Great review!

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    1. I think the real Anne Frank house would make me cry.

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  13. The real Anne Frank house does make you cry.

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    1. I think I can visit it, though. I do not think I can visit the sites of the concentration camps.

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  14. I love and hate movies like this all at the same time. :/

    -andi

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    1. I love it. I don't hate it at all because it doesn't depress me.

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  15. Firstly,I'm very impressed with your neat, no green monsters left behind, nose blowing skills. Secondly, your movie review makes me want to run out and see it. When I do get sad, I'll just think of your beautiful video. Oh, thanks for the update on the death with dignity situation. I made the necessary changes.

    Julie

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    1. I'm afraid I can't claim to be the nose blower in the video. We'll see what happens with the young woman who wanted to die. The thought crossed my mind that she said she's not going to kill herself so people wouldn't bother her as much as they have been.

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  16. LP read the book. I was in bed with her as she was finishing it and sobbing. She also saw the movie with her BF. I think they both cried a little! This is not one I would watch. Too sad for me.

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    1. I understand, but I saw the uplifting parts in it more than the sadness.

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  17. Gentle writer and some dude named, Maxwell,

    Yep and wow, it really is me leaving a comment on your must-read site. Have you missed me? I know, who is this person?

    It seems that you have given a balanced appraisal of the movie. If a sensitive subject doesn't depress you, that's an optimistic result.

    Yep, I'm going now.....

    Hugs n' stuff,

    Gary :)

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    1. Welcome back. Of course I missed you. Sensitive subjects usually don't depress me. I try to learn from them.

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  18. If the fault is in your stars, just reach up and rearrange them.

    Blessings and Bear hugs, Janie.

    P.S.: How did Willie respond to the show?

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    1. He didn't watch it. He wasn't interested.

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  19. Like you, Janie, "I didn't cry while I watched it, but I felt moved." And I agree, it does not depress because it has many lessons.

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    1. I'm glad you feel the same way, Peaches.

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Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.