Monday, 16 June 2014

Thoughts on Films: The Fault in Our Stars

So! The Fault in Our Stars. That's a thing now. Kind of a big thing, which you know if you are a person who lives on the planet and has access to the internet. I was really lucky in that I got to go and see it about a week early thanks to Penguin (seriously, thank you!) which was kind of a new thing for me. I never get invited to stuff like that so I was very excited, and it was such a fun experience to get to go and see the film with a bunch of people who were all fans of the book, and who had been waiting for ages to see it. Honestly, the sound of other people's tears has never been so comforting or hilarious. And I enjoyed the film a lot, but it isn't a new favourite or anything.

Since I read the book two and a half years ago, I feel like my opinion about has changed a bit. I still think that it's a good book, obviously, but it doesn't stand out to me in my memory. I feel like the only reason I give it special consideration in my mind is because it's a John Green book and I feel like I need to give John Green special consideration for some reason. I still like the book and the story, but it isn't one of my favourite books. It never truly resonated with me, I don't think, in that inexplicable and sometimes explainable way that favourite books do. But I know that it's a very important book to lots of people and it fills them with the 'evangelical zeal' that John writes about. What I'm trying to say here is that I watched the film as a person who is not obsessed with the book, but who likes it, and I feel like your opinion of the book (if you have read the book) will be similar to your opinion of the film, because the film is basically the book but with some stuff missing.

The film is funny and nice and sad, all the things that the book is and all the things that an indie romance type film usually is. Really, if you weren't expecting it to be those things, then you're a bit of an odd duck. I cried a lot, but I cry at everything. I cried at the Muppets. Honestly, I have absolutely zero control over my tear ducts. Anyway, I cried a lot, and I thought it was sad, but it didn't upset me. I didn't leave the cinema feeling sad still. I didn't go home with the weight of the things that happened at the end. I don't cry when I think back to it, you know? And I was kind of expecting that, but really this is kind of a good thing because I don't like emotional hangovers. I mean it's a tragic story, but I don't feel that bad about it. Honestly, I feel like the true tragedy of this film is that Mike Birbiglia's Patrick, of the cancer support group leadership fame, was not in it nearly enough. He was hilarious, for the two minutes of screentime that he got.

There were lots of things about the film that I like a lot, actually, apart from Patrick. Shailene Woodley is pretty much perfect as Hazel. She is a very good actress, and she brought it in this. Ansel was also good as Gus, but Gus kind of annoys me. So the fact that he also annoyed me as Gus is probably a sign that he was a good Gus, I guess (try saying that 10 times fast). The soundtrack is perfect, and I listen to it a lot, and it fitted in really well with the film. I also loved all the scene with Hazel and her parents. When it comes to films like this, I always tend to find the scenes with family members more emotional than with the love interest (which is not to say that it's not just as important but you know how I feel about familial and platonic love, guys.) One of the standout moments was when Hazel's mum told her about how she wanted to help other families with similar situations once Hazel was gone. Everything about the Anne Frank house was excellent apart from the kiss (it was fine, but it annoys me and I think that it's pretty disrespectful and who even applauds when young people PDA like seriously.) Other favourite parts: the egg throwing. It's the last truly funny moment in the film. Um, Gus's pre-funeral was also very touching. Plus, Van Houten. Terrible person, amazing character. Overall, I really liked the film, and I think it was a very good adaptation of the book.

But I do have gripes. When do I not have gripes, really? My main thing, which I guess stands for the book too, as most of these will as a result of it being such a close adaptation, is that I don't get what makes it stand out so much from other 'realistic' books/films. If I had written the tagline, it would go something like this: Your Average Teen Indie Romance, Now With Extra Added Cancer! because that's how it feels to me. And it is a good teen romance, and a good cancer story, for lack of a better term, but to me it's no better than all the other good teen romances or cancer books/films out there. Is it because someone dies? Does that make it more profound or something, somehow? Maybe it's like how I said before, that it just means a lot to a lot of people, and it just doesn't mean a lot to me. Also: Gus. Yes, I know, he's meant to be pretentious, but that doesn't change the fact that he is pretentious to the point of annoyance. The fact that it is intentional changes nothing. I think that there is a nice balance between pretentious Gus, and non-annoying Gus who appears more later on in the film in his moments of vulnerability, but oh my god the cigarettes. Generally, I do think that it is a thing for teenagers to be pretentious and annoying. Like, that's what we do. It is the age at which we want to matter most in the world, and I can see where he's coming from with that, but oh my fucking god the cigarettes. What levels of pretentious bullshittery do you have to be on to be A CANCER SURVIVOR and then go out and BUY a packet of CIGARETTES and GIVE MONEY TO PEOPLE WHO MAKE CIGARETTES which CAUSE CANCER AND OTHER SERIOUS MEDICAL PROBLEMS for A STUPID FUCKING METAPHOR. You wouldn't walk around with a gun in your mouth saying 'it's a metaphor' would you because THAT WOULD BE IDIOTIC. I know this seems disproportionate, but this has always made me angry. And I don't give a shit if it's like his comfort blanket because a) he is not a real person and b) IT'S SO STUPID. Every time he came up on the screen looking cocky with one of his stupid cigarettes hanging out of his mouth I wanted to just punch him. Which probably paints me in a bad light, but I don't care. And it makes me frustrated that after seeing this film, which I liked, that is the image that lingers in my brain.

*takes a deep breath*

Okay, so that got slightly out of hand. 

ANYWAY. I imagine your experience of the film will go in almost exact accordance to your experience of the book, and, as evidenced above, the issues you have with the book will only be highlighted by the film. But it is a very good adaptation and a good film and take tissues blah blah blah. You don't need me to tell you this. Everyone is telling you this. Sorry, I'm still a bit worked up.

Go see The Fault in Our Stars! I hope the cigarettes don't annoy you as much they did me... I mean, it sounds like they really pissed me off and they kind of did, but not at the expense of everything else which was good about the film.

(I don't know what happened I started this wanting to be nice and IT IS A GOOD FILM I just get a bit ranty sometimes you know me)


  1. LOLOLOLOLOL. Oh Cic, you are the best. We love this review with all our hearts -- and we felt very similarly to you about the book, so we expect we will about the movie too.

  2. Have to agree with the cigarettes. Worked in the book (ish), but is absolutely ridiculous on screen. And I agree with vulnerable Gus, though I don't think there was enough vulnerable Gus. Should have been more.

  3. I still maintain that it isn't even a metaphor :P And you are so right about the gun thing haha! I never thought about it like that ;)


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