Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
The Fault in Our Stars - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Fault in Our Stars
Directing: C
Acting: B+
Writing: D
Cinematography: B-
Editing: C+

Director Josh Boone has done a great disservice to young movie audiences with The Fault in Our Stars. The beloved novel on which it's based was intended for young adults, and thus so was this movie adaptation. It stands to reason -- unfortunately -- that young adult viewers will very much enjoy this movie, which therefore puts them under the misguided notion that movies like this are actually high quality cinema. This is a travesty.

Maybe the novel, written by Michael H. Weber, was notably better than the abysmal script written by Scott Neustadter -- who is bizarrely off kilter here after last year's far superior The Spectacular Now. Shailene Woodley stars in both films, and she is easily the brightest spot, by far, in The Fault in Our Stars. I never read the book on which this movie is based, but better or not, if even the basic beats are the same, I must not be missing much.

I hate this movie. It's far from the worst movie I have ever seen, but few movies have made me as angry as this one did, just out of sheer cinematic ineptitude, and deceptive likability. Its emotional-manipulation factor is off the charts, and yes, sure, I cried plenty. The actors must be credited there, even Ansel Elgort as Gus, as blandly forgettable character as there ever was. This Gus guy is too perfect on paper, an entity without character flaws or even nuance. Elgort's performance offers some nuance but that falls far short of saving the movie.

Nothing can save this movie, at least not after Gus and Hazel (Woodley) visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Hazel, who is sick with cancer in her lungs, insists on lugging her oxygen tank with her all the way to the top of several flights of stairs. This is paired with audio quotes from The Diary of Anne Frank, as if there's any reason to draw parallels between these two young women. And then -- spoiler alert! -- they kiss in the attic, in front of several other tourists in the room with them, who applaud. I can take a lot of stunningly dumb shit in movies, but this I just couldn't handle.

Oh, and by the way, Gus walks around everywhere with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. He calls it a metaphor for putting what might kill him between his teeth and not letting it kill him. Am I the only person who thinks this is insufferably stupid?

They're in Amsterdam to see a beloved author who wrote a novel about dying from cancer. Willem Dafoe plays said author, who turns out to be an asshole alcoholic. (His wife -- or assistant? -- takes them sightseeing as an apology. To the Anne Frank House.) This entire scene is overtly contrived, but not nearly to the degree as the scene where the author travels all the way from Europe just to show up at some teenage fan's funeral.

I have to admit, I had read some fairly negative stuff about this movie before seeing it, and for the first half or so, I was thinking it wasn't quite as bad as some people made it out to be. But then that Anne Frank House thing happened, and it suddenly became much worse than expected. The two leads, but particularly Shailene Woodley, are undeniably charismatic and have chemistry together. They make you care about the characters, which only makes it even more infuriating when neither character could exist in the real world.

And they could have. In better hands, this could have been a touching and deeply affecting story, rather than the transparently manipulative and contrived one that it is. I could be just old and cynical, except that I'm generally open to dumb movies as long as they entertain without annoying distractions and simply deliver on their promise. But delivering is how The Fault in Our Stars fails spectacularly -- whether or not the younger audiences flocking to the movie can see it.

Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley are collateral damage in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

Overall: C
Leave a comment