The Fault in Our Stars is days away from release, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already watched the theatrical trailers countless times and felt every emotion on the spectrum – laughing, weeping, you name it. So. Many. Feelings.
As one of Summer’s most anticipated movies, The Fault in Our Stars already boasts an established fanbase thanks to the intensely popular John Green novel that serves as the movie’s source material.
The story focuses on Hazel, played by the up-and-comer Shailene Woodley, who faces the not-so-average teenage struggle of battling thyroid cancer. While in a cancer support group, Hazel catches the attention of Ansel Elgort’s confident and endearing Augustus Waters and her life is forever changed.
Augustus brings laughter and optimism into her life and effortlessly charms both Hazel and the reader. If you’re not familiar with Ansel Elgort by now, stay tuned because he’s going to be one of the biggest movie star-slash-heartthrobs of the year.
While the first concern is that The Fault in our Stars could easily be another repetitive example of a young adult book haphazardly produced for the silver screen box office, if it adheres to the narrative structure of the Young Adult novel, it should actually provide quite a breath of fresh air. If the adaptation is true, the movie will boldly set itself apart from the influx of recent popular action-packed dystopian adaptations, including The Hunger Games and Divergent (which coincidentally also stars Woodley and Elgort).
We know all too well that just because a literary series is popular in print, doesn’t mean it will translate to box office success and/or critical glory. Take for example Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, or dare we even mention John Carter? Given the constant saturation of supernatural teen adaptations, this shift into more grounded, realistic stories receiving the Hollywood treatment is a welcome reprieve.
Just like the aforementioned novels, The Fault in Our Stars also has a large, dedicated fanbase to please. From tweens and teens to their parents, John Green’s publication has sold 7 million hardcovers as well as another 3 million paperback copies to be sold as a movie tie-in.
With millions of fans itching to see their treasured characters on the big screen, it can create a lot of pressure for the director, cast, and especially the author.
From the trailers and preview clips, fans of the book have been lead to expect that Director Josh Boone has done a mesmerizing job breathing life into the pages of Green’s beloved novel. The movie doesn’t hit theaters until June 6th, but the early preview evokes a gut-wrenching rush of emotions for those who have read the book. If what we’ve seen is any indication of what’s in store, even the most dedicated fans will be satisfied.
On his personal Tumblr, Mr. Green himself even writes of the film,
“It’s amazing how beautiful it all looks. Without getting into spoilers, the visual look of the movie – from the actors to the sets to the light – is very similar to a lot of what I imagined while writing, which creates a weird feeling that your imagination has actually become visible.”
Now, is that an endorsement or is that an endorsement?
Augustus and Hazel’s most cherished lines even make their appearance in the trailer, giving an encouraging sign to fans that the dialogue and major plot points will remain true to the book. I may or may not have openly teared up as Hazel delivered her illustrious “You gave me a forever within the numbered days” line and swooned at Augustus’ “Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you” soliloquy.
It is also an immeasurable relief to see Hazel sporting her breathing tubes throughout the trailer. As we saw from My Sister’s Keeper, Hollywood has no problem editing major plot points for marketing purposes and ease of watchability. The 2009 film was a bit too careful in painting over the ugly truth about cancer, and its sincerity suffered as a result. Similarly, from the same year, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones proved to be far too passive in its attitude toward the murder/rape that served as the plot’s catalyst. A small but important segment of these books’ loyal fanbases latches on to the material because of these elements. Having experienced or loved someone who experienced similar terrible fates, these fans are owed a sincere and honest look at the truth about that brand suffering.
Given the book’s extensive audience and the cherished place it holds within the hearts of that audience (for very specific and sacred reasons for some of those fans) The Fault in Our Stars has to be careful to avoid the fate of My Sister’s Keeper and The Lovely Bones, books that occupy the same shelf space as The Fault in Our Stars, but that resulted in disappointing adaptations, wherein delicate subject matter was poorly presented and both films ended up being willfully forgettable to audiences.
What sets The Fault in Our Stars apart from past movies with sensitive topicology is that it has to earn the audience’s emotional reactions. It’s unflinchingly raw and relies on a sense of frankness without being cliche. For most of the film, Hazel wears her breathing tube and lugs around her tank of oxygen – it’s genuine, and reminds us that cancer is very real for a lot of people, not just a sensitive storyline that can be altered to fit the Hollywood norms. If Josh Boone et al pull it off, The Fault in Our Stars can unquestionably earn teen classic status a la A Walk to Remember.
Overall, early indications have given hope that the film might be satisfyingly devoted to its source material, but whether you have read the novel or not, this extraordinary portrayal of love is one that I think you should absolutely take the chance on (and don’t forget your box of tissues!).