Here’s a preview of what I’m going to eventually write, because MAN if you take out the commentary on technical details and acting it captures my feelings about the book in an almost eerily perfect way.
[Hazel’s] love life is an afterthought… until she meets the perfect guy. Cancer survivor Gus (Ansel Elgort) disrupts Hazel’s malaise with an intoxicating carpe diem attitude. Fault’s not a corny high school movie, but it’s still dream-fulfillment with a GED. 500 Days of Summer writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber and director Josh Boone indulge in whimsical fluff only to burn it down with grief. Cancer is their dramatic trump card. Tears will flow, one way or another.
Self-aggrandizing, dim, aware of his own physical attractiveness, and faux-poetic (Gus sucks on cigarettes without smoking them as a metaphor: “You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”), Gus is the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Boy. The too-bright-for-this-act Hazel falls for him hook, line, and sinker. .
Really though, I don’t think I could write a better description of Augustus if I tried.
Here’s another one:
To intensify their escalating relationship, Gus plays Make a Wish Foundation by helping Hazel connect with the author of her favorite book. This whisks the action from the ‘burbs to Amsterdam, a enlivening tactic that may have worked in Green’s book, but feels like an easy out on screen. The dreamy backdrop feels like an extension of Gus’ suffocating charm. When the two finally share a kiss, in the attic of Anne Frank’s house, the surrounding tourists applause. All it’s missing is the Peter Gabriel song.
FYI, it fails in the book too. And it ends it on the perfect note:
Fault in Our Stars sells cancer as a physical hardship that turns people into ticking clocks. It wants to believe that love has its own theory of relativity, slowing down time as it sparks burn hotter. But the film can’t stop looking ahead towards the inevitable. There’s no luxuriating in Fault in Our Stars because only one half of the couple is human. Hazel lives in the moment. Gus lives in a dream. And that combo doesn’t make for a movie that feels anything like “the truth.”
And the score: 5.8. I’ll tack the .8 up to acting skill, because man this review was pretty much perfect.