I always try to avoid movies about people having terminal illness. Last time I watched such a movie was “My Sister’s Keeper” (Cameron Diaz) which I mistakenly thought that it was a comedy. “The Fault in Our Stars” was seriously recommended by a friend.
The movie is adapted from John Green’s novel. A teenage girl with thyroid cancer, Hazel (Shailene Woodley), attended a patients’ support group, met and fell in love with Augustus (Ansel Elgort), whose leg was amputated due to bone cancer. Hazel recommended her favourite novel, “An Imperial Affliction” – a story about a girl dying with cancer, to Augustus. But he did not like the novel’s abrupt ending. They then travelled to Amsterdam to meet with the author – Peter van Houten, to clarify the actual ending of the story. In Amsterdam, they found that the trip was actually organized by Peter’s assistant – Lidewij, and Peter was actually an alcoholic. Peter was angered by their visit and refused to talk about his novel.
Although Hazel and Augustus were disappointed, the trip strengthened their love to each other. Someone has to die in the movie. Augustus’s cancer has spread. He held a pre-funeral with Hazel and his blind friend Isaac before he died. In Augustus’s funeral, Hazel was surprised to see Peter there. She later learned that Augustus had asked Peter to help him write his eulogy – his acceptance of death and his love for Hazel. In the last scene, Hazel lied on the lawn watching the stars, smiling as she was memorizing Augustus.
“The Fault in Our Stars” was well-filmed but it lacked the chemistry to create the bond between the audiences and the characters. It could not make me care and feel sympathy for Hazel and Augustus. Just like Hazel’s mum said, “You two are so adorable!” Well, may be they just look too adorable to be cancer patients. There were a number of scenes that could touch the audiences: the patients’ support group, the tour of Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the arguments between Hazel, Augustus and their parents, Augustus’s pre-funeral and his eulogy; however the director just let them slip. On the other hand, “My Sister’s Keeper” did a better job as a tearjerker. But I still prefer to avoid this kind of movie.
Finally, if you like me, are curious about the movie title. It’s from Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
The phrase is interpreted as fate is not what drives human to their decisions and actions, but rather their situation. For Hazel and Augustus, sickness was written in their stars, but it was up to them to respond and make the best of their life.