The Book About the Teens With Cancer. That’s what people may think of The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s really not. It’s a story about life, love, and loss. It’s a story about how we deal with bad, unfair circumstances.
I was introduced to the book by my sister, and I only read the first chapter. This spring, I saw the film adaptation. It was quite enjoyable.
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs, rendering unable to breath without oxygen tanks. She takes experimental medication that has helped to prolong her life. Her parents force her to attend a support group for teens with cancer, and she meets the free-spirited Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), who lost his lower right leg to bone cancer, and has a prosthesis.
As the two become close, they bond over Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, which is about a a young girl who dies from cancer. Confused over the abrupt ending, Augustus convinces Hazel to email the author Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), who lives in Amsterdam, to inquire about the meaning of the ending. He emails back and invites Hazel to come to visit him. Augustus is able to obtain tickets from a charity, and things are all set.
Hazel is excited, but then she gets hospitalized. Her doctors are unwilling to let her travel, but they are soon convinced. While in Amsterdam, Hazel and Augustus have a romantic dinner, paid for by Van Houten, and the the next they meet Van Houten, but he rudely dismisses them. His assistant (who arranged everything that Hazel and Augustus did) makes up for it by taking them to the Anne Frank House, and while there, inspired by a recording of Frank’s words, they kiss. That night, they have sex for the first time, but the following morning Augustus reveals that his cancer has returned and is terminal, having spread throughout his body. He is going to die.
Back at home, Augustus and Hazel struggle to cope with Augustus’s impending death, as his health deteriorates. With his best friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), who lost both of his eyes to cancer, Hazel throws a pre-funeral for him. Shortly afterwards, Augustus dies after the cancer spreads to his heart, stopping it in the process. Naturally, Hazel is devastated.
At Augustus’s funeral, she sees Van Houten. It tuns out that Augustus insisted that he attend his funeral as a way to make amends for how he treated him and Hazel. He explains that the main character of his book was based on his own daughter who died from cancer. He also gives her a piece of paper. Hazel balls the piece of paper up, but later she learns from Isaac that Van Houten helped Augustus write a eulogy for her. She finds the paper and reads it. She is moved by his words and is happy that she knew him.
I saw this movie because it was assigned by my my professor in my Interpersonal Communication class as an example of how relationships unfold and develop.
What I liked about the film was that it was full of purely honest emotion. It was not sappy or melodramatic like lots of films concerning such subject matter. Cancer was an important part of the characters’ development, but it did not define them, and it did not seek to make them perfect or saintly or the like. What made the movie special was that it was realistic, it was not saccharine, and it was about living life in spite of its difficulties.