Review: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you.

That’s the premise behind “The Fault in Our Stars.” Based off the acclaimed and universally-obsessed-over book by John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars” is more than another teen love drama. It’s a story about cancer, love, and pain that demands to be felt.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl who has been battling cancer since she was diagnosed at 13. She has to breathe from a tube and haul an oxygen tank everywhere she goes, as using stairs and standing for too long make her short of breath.

After her parents suspect Hazel of being depressed, they make her go to a support group for kids with cancer. It is here where Hazel meets Augustus “Gus” Waters (Ansel Elgort), an 18-year-old boy in remission. The two get to talking, sparks fly, and, despite Hazel’s hesitance about hurting Gus with her inevitable death, the two fall madly in love.

The genius of “The Fault in Our Stars,” lies with its risk to be funny while telling a sad story. You’ll laugh at the banter between Gus and Hazel, the goofy persona of fellow cancer victim Isaac (Nat Wolff), and the way the characters poke fun at their disease (as Gus says to Hazel’s father, “I didn’t cut this guy off for the hell of it,” motioning to his amputated leg he lost to his cancer).

A Fault In Our Stars

Following up amazing performances in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, Woodley is never better. As Hazel Grace, she is witty, sweet, and heartbreaking. You won’t be able to take your eyes off her. Opposite her Divergent co-star Elgort, the two are a match made in heaven.

“The Fault in Our Stars” isn’t just another cancer movie comprised of sad scenes and cliché. The story is lively, the characters bright, and the love poignant. The soundtrack, featuring songs from Ed Sheeran, M83, and Kodaline among others, breathes life and beauty into the film.

But, you must remember, this is a cancer movie — it’s not all laughs.

The audible squeals, giggles and applause from the audience slowly turn into suffocating silence and broken cries of “why?” and “no!” By the film’s conclusion you will find yourself bawling into your popcorn (or, in the my case, smuggled-in chocolates), surrounded by loud sobbing and nose-blowing noises from the packed theater. You will leave feeling broken but complete at the same time.

It lives up to its hype.

Review: ‘Divergent’


In a futuristic Chicago there live four factions, where the citizens are categorized according to their personalities: Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). Each faction performs specific roles for society and are forbidden to interact with anyone outside their group. Upon reaching a certain age, the city’s youth are given a personality test, which determines which faction they should join. Everything is peaceful and well within the walls of the city — that is, until Tris takes the aptitude test.

Enter, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley). Tris is Divergent — someone who does not fit completely into the requirements of one faction. Tris is a danger to society. Her existence threatens to overthrow what has been in place for as long as anyone can remember. Because of this, Tris must hide her inconclusive test results and not let anybody know she is a Divergent.

“Divergent” is nothing original. But what separates the film from most movies based on YA books (think, “Immortal Instruments,” “Vampire Academy,” “Beautiful Creatures,” etc.) — it doesn’t suck.

Maybe the success rests with the exceptional cast. Following her strong performances in “The Descendants” (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination) and “The Spectacular Now,” (and overlooking her stint as a pregnant teen in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,”) Woodley shines as Tris. She’s strong, beautiful, brave, determined, but is still afraid and doubtful of herself. She’s a gem.

Alongside Woodley is the gorgeous and talented Theo James. James brings just the right amount of irresistible, come-hitherness to Four, one of Tris’ mentors. Kate Winslet is despicably wicked as Jeanine, the Erudite leader with a diabolical plot, and Miles Teller is the douche bag you’ll love to roll your eyes at.

Or maybe it’s because of the intriguing, sci-fi distopian setting. The country has been ravaged by a mysterious war, which led to the construction of a wall around the city’s barriers and complete isolation from the outside war. What caused the war? Who was it between? What is life like outside the Chicago barrier? A potential sequel or two will (hopefully) answer these lingering questions.

“Divergent” is no “Hunger Games,” but it provides entertainment — mouthwatering man candy, steamy romance scenes, kick-ass action sequences, strong female characters, and a “don’t be afraid to think for yourself” theme. What else could you want out of a YA novel adaptation?