Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: The Fault in Our Stars

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: The Fault in Our Stars

Article excerpt

Credit: Deborah Ross

The Fault in Our Stars

12A, Nationwide

The Fault in Our Stars , which is based on the bestselling young-adult novel by John Green, is about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love and it's a sort of Love Story for younger people, God help them, although unlike Love Story it's not set to mislead an entire generation. (In my experience, love means having to say you're sorry constantly, and at least three times before breakfast.) This is funnier -- it's funny about the Big C; that's its USP -- but it is still a weepie and yes, I did weep, as I'm not a cold-hearted monster (am I not still recovering from Marley & Me ?), but the final quarter of the film goes in so manipulatively hard that, by what seemed like the fourth eulogy I'd rather had it and instead of paying attention was doing a food shop in my head, and thinking: 'Tinned tomatoes'. Also: 'Cheese'. Not ideal -- I attempted a list in the dark, which was all over the place -- but there you are.

Our heroine is Hazel Grace Lancaster, as played by Shailene Woodley ( The Descendants ; Divergent ), who is beautiful without being Hollywood beautiful, has wonderfully expressive eyes, and who delivers such a lovely, layered performance that, when this film works, it works because of her. Hazel is not in a great place. Hazel is 16 and has thyroid cancer, which forces her to wear tubes in her nose and drag around an oxygen tank. Not a great place, not a great look, but she is remarkably sanguine, and worries more about others, particularly her lovely mother (Laura Dern), whom I was also most worried about. (Terrible sign of age; identifying with mothers.) Having cancer sucks, and attending a support group for teens with cancer sucks, but Hazel attends the group to make her mother happy. (Nice girl, Hazel.) Here, she meets Augustus 'Gus' Waters, as played by Ansel Elgort, who looks the spit of one of the actors in Alias Smith and Jones . Not Pete Duel. The other one. The one no one fancied as much. Ben Murphy. (This is how old I am.) Gus is in remission since his cancer necessitated one of his legs being removed from the knee down. This sounds about as fun as knowing you have to pick up tinned tomatoes (and cheese) on the way home, but these teenagers are 'sassy' -- I think that's the word -- and mocking and never self-pitying and there are some good lines. …

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