Donnerstag, 12. Juni 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Oh my: ladies, get your tissues ready. "The Fault in Our Stars" is a powerhouse tearjerker that could conceivably send some viewers into hyperventilation. Quoting often verbatim from John Green's eponymous bestselling novel and directed with an appealing, youthful beat by Josh Boone, it's also one of those rare, note-perfect translations from page to screen, which doesn't make it automatically a great movie as much as one that inherits all the strengths and weaknesses of the original material.

The book, based on the potentially exploitative premise of doomed romance between cancer kids, certainly has its moments. The author goes out of his way to turn down the sappiness and strive for authenticity through the portrayal of a toughened mentality of teenage survivors and their lucid outlook on the finite nature of existence. In the process many acute observations about loneliness, love and the fundamental unfairness of life are captured in not particularly refined but nonetheless heartbreaking language. And except for a couple of scenes where the music comes across as too sentimental, the movie gets that tricky tone of tragedy wrapped in an air of rebellious humor with surprising accuracy. It's sad, but not mournful, endearing, but never condescending. Contributing in no small part to this achievement is the pair of impeccably cast young lead actors. Shailene Woodley, while never looking quite as sick or frail as one would probably expect, embodies the role of Hazel Grace Lancaster with compelling assurance and anchors it in careful sensitivity. Ansel Elgort's performance as Augustus Waters is rather on the one-note side, but he carries it with such genuine warmth and unpolished charm you can't help but sympathize. The chemistry shared between the two puts practically all other on-screen couples from recent young-adult films to shame.

Like the book though, the movie can't completely shake the fishy taste of misery porn, and while it maintains a lively cadence, the slightly disruptive feeling of chapter-to-chapter jumps is still there. Add to that a mid-section that sags a little and you've got an all-around enjoyable but flawed romantic drama. It's nothing if not effective though- I can't remember the last time I heard the uniquely unsettling sound of an entire theater crying.

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