****SPOILER WARNING: MANY SPOILS AHEAD.DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FAULT IN OUR STARS****
So I am sitting at my desk and I’m tired. I’m wearing my new pajamas that I got from Marshall’s today (on clearance if I might add!). The reason I am sitting at my desk at approximately 12:47 am on this Sunday morning is because I have had the urge to write. Why, might you ask? The reason is pretty simple. I just got back from watching the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, and I need to pour out my emotions onto this clean, white page.
I guess this is a movie review…or maybe a book review. But mostly a movie review, because the book is so good it doesn’t even need a review. Read the book now. It won’t disappoint.
Let’s just call this a sort of review.
Truthfully, I don’t even know what I want to say or where to start, but here goes.
I have read John Green’s wonderful book precisely 2 times. The first time I read TFIOS was last summer, almost exactly a year ago. The second time was yesterday (or the day before, technically, because it is 50 minutes after midnight).
For some reason, I felt like I was reading a whole new book when I reread it yesterday. All the beautiful, simple, yet intricate details astounded me as I read. I was left melted, yet whole, broken, but pieced back together. The inspiring, sad book left me crying tears of sorrow, but at the same time laughing. And honestly, I don’t think I really have a word for that phenomenon. But, I can say that moments like that are why I love books and why I am utterly jealous of the authors who can magically place the most perfect words on a page and make me fall in love in little bits then all at once, to use a reference to TFIOS.
The movie did the same thing, but differently. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but truthfully that’s what happened. I went into the movie with soaring expectations, like any other book lover seeing an adapted version of one of their favorite books. As the movie began, I found myself falling in love with Augustus and the acting of Ansel Elgort. He was the perfect Augustus (though I had had some doubts before seeing the film). Augustus’ character is positive through trials and constantly joking about serious matters that should be the opposite of funny. He makes fun of his blind best friend—I felt bad for laughing! Elgort pulled this quirky personality off with flying colors—he seemed like a natural. I feel that if I went up to Elgort and started talking to him, his personality would be the same in real life as it was in his portrayal of Augustus! Shailene Woodley played Hazel Grace Lancaster. Woodley did an amazing job as Hazel. Her personality was spot on Hazel, and the chemistry between her and Elgort was remarkable. Having read the book, I knew that there were moments that could have been pretty awkward on the screen, but Elgort and Woodley pulled it off. To me, the only awkward scenes were sometimes between Hazel and her mother, who was played by actress Laura Dern. Truly, it was not really awkward, so much as it felt there was some need for more dialogue—too many pauses and not enough words.
Another thing—when I read the book, I cried a lot. I mean a lot. Like tears on the pages a lot. Like “let me pause and get up and go find a box of tissues” a lot. As I watched the movie, I was on a pretty good streak of no tears, until the eulogy scene. Just like in the book, Gus asked Hazel and his best friend Isaac to meet him at “the literal heart of Jesus”, the center of an episcopal church, with prepared eulogies, so that Gus could attend his own funeral. The crazy thing is that this movie did an amazing job of portraying such a paradox: Gus’ positive attitude and the happiness of a life well lived, coupled with the sadness of the fact that he is dying. Isaac, played by Nat Wolff, became one of my favorite characters as I watched the movie. He actually stuck out to me more in the movie than he did in the book. Anyway, when Isaac got up to say his eulogy I started crying, but at the same time I found myself laughing at the constant joking between Gus and Isaac. Then, Hazel got up to say her eulogy, and of course, it was all tears for me, but I noticed I was smiling. The camera cut between close-ups of Hazel speaking and Gus listening to her. Through tears, and amid the deepest sadness, both Gus and Hazel smiled, and it was beautiful. I think that scene is why I loved this movie so much and why it met my expectations. I (kind of) decided that scene is what the movie and book are all about: the struggle of a life with such difficult, painful circumstances brought on by a disease with no cure, and how to see joy and happiness in that sadness. As you can see, it’s hard—maybe not fully possible. But, at least there are those moments where you can be sad and happy at the same time—where you can smile and cry and laugh and feel like you are going to die all at once, but at least you smiled.
My favorite line from the book goes like this: “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.” It reminds me that maybe there is no way to fully understand the difficult trials of life. Sometimes it does seem like some people may have it worse than others, and that some people only get to live 18 years or even less. That is what happens, and it is sickening and sad, but it is life. We have to find those little bits of happiness through the tears,through the faults in our stars that can’t yet form constellations, because there is a bigger plan in our lives. That “capital S something” that Augustus believes in is God and He does have a plan, even in the awful circumstances, even when we may not realize that the “Something” is God. He is the one that allows us to smile during the faults in our stars. So, all in all, I will give this movie a rating of an entire constellation, a constellation composed of 5 STARS (or 10 depending on your rating scale). 🙂
Shout out to John Green for writing his amazingly “okay” book.