The Fault in Our Stars review by Barry Cox

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Knowing full well the Fault in our Stars was going to tug on the heart strings, and possibly have me sniffling, head in arms, I thought I’d be a brave soul and venture with my Kleenex in hand, to the local cinema for a emotional thrashing regardless.

Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, whom was diagnosed with type-4 thyroid cancer at a young age and is battling on like a trooper. Supported by her parents (Dern and Trammell), Hazel, who finds comfort in her solace, choosing to read a particular book over and over, that just happens to be about cancer, rather than anything much else.

Good old mum and doctor decide it would be good if she went to a support group where she can meet others of similar circumstances. Alas, she goes along complete with oxygen tank on wheels in tow. There she meets and begins a fluid, if slightly jovial friendship with Gus, a cancer patient who is in remission. Gus is full of dexterousness and benevolence, a trait that, whilst often worthy of eye rolling moments, really serves the character well.

As obvious as it is to say it, Hazel and Gus fall in love *insert ahs and coos here* and embark on a journey to Amsterdam (Holland, not New York) as Gus, the lovable fella that he is, has set up a meeting with Peter Van Houghton (Willem Dafoe), the author of Hazel’s favourite book. So, with the doctor’s disapproval, off they go to a city full of tulips and debauchery for fun and frolics.

I’ll leave the synopsis there. If that’s intrigued you, I suggest you stop reading now and go and see the film, as my thoughts below is about to upset the apple cart.

My one (big) problem with the film lies within its force-fed approach to the story. Yes, it was always going to be a difficult narrative to tackle, though the idea has merit, it’s in the execution the problems are evident.  The film’s soundtrack is as saccharine as they come. Chock-full of those exaggeratingly sentimental moments, helping those lodged tears embark on a journey down your face. Then there’s the way that Hazel speaks. As a teenager, I knew a few choice words, but not things like “…there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a Peter Gabriel song”, and whilst I have quoted that out of context, the important thing is that this teenage girl is saying things like this and knows who Peter Gabriel is. Maybe she does, who am I to question what goes on in a teenagers world, it’s not like I was ever one once.

Ultimately by the films tear-jerking finale, (it’s not a spoiler, honest) the cinema was flooded with teenage tears, and tissues were strewn across the isles, and I was utterly done in by the hammer to the head, emotiveness of ‘The Fault in our Stars’. It really does wear its welcome out. A few good scenes aside and charming chemistry from the leads cannot save it from being anything more than an overly sentimental piece that doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.