*Warning – Contains huge spoilers for those who haven’t read the book/watched the film*
For the handful of you that actually read this blog, you would know that a few months ago I reviewed The Fault In Our Stars book.and that I gave it a raving review. In fact, as somebody who is a complete and utter nerd when it comes to reading and wouldn’t even like to guess the amount of books I have read in the last year, let alone ever, I put The Fault In Our Stars at the top.
The story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year old teenager falling in love with the eighteen year old Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters probably would have been memorable as a sweet shout out to teenage romance and the way falling so deep for someone can make you feel. But of course, there is a huge thing trying to overshadow this simple love story. Hazel is living with terminal cancer.
The book had me gripped from the first page. I laughed, cried and was struck by the beautiful simplicity of the story. And it really is a simple one. Two teenagers falling in love. The cancer doesn’t define them. It isn’t who they are. It really is a novel about love. And we can all relate to that.
Of course , knowing there would be a film adaptation made me happy. I also knew it would be huge. This book has been at the top of the best sellers list for ages and with good reason. I really hoped that I wasn’t expecting too much from the film. 90% of the time for me, a film doesn’t even touch the depths in which a book can. It is easy to feel let down when a favourite novel finally jumps to the big screen.
The hype building up about this film over the last few months has been annoying. I followed Ansel Elgort ( The guy who went on to land the part of Gus) on twitter before the hype started and watched as his fan base built up. He went from having a few thousand followers to over a million in what seemed like the blink of an eye. There were clearly a lot of expectations riding on this young guys shoulders. He literally shot to fame right before my eyes and it was interesting to watch.
After seeing the film today, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Ansel Elgort’s star will continue to rise. Cast along side the absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing Shailene Woodley , he has left a stamp on girls hearts all over the world.
From the very start, the movie was as deep cutting as the book. There is no sugar coating the cancer. Hazel makes no pretence that she is happy about her life. She is a teenage girl with terminal cancer who finds it hard to even walk a few steps while dragging her oxygen tank around with her.
It is a harsh reminder that there are people out in this world whose lives are a daily battle.
It has to be said that even though the eyes of the world were all watching Shailene and Ansel, there are two other stars that impacted me in the movie big time. It took me with surprise since in the book , I didn’t care for them all that much. Hazel’s parents.
Sam Trammell and Laura Dern were absolute knockouts in this movie. The way they conveyed parents who had come to terms with their daughters diagnosis was absolutely fantastic. They were brilliant and I really found myself enjoying them with a heartbreaking sadness every single time they were on the screen. It also helped that Sam Trammell is a complete and utter babe. Come on, …… I only speak the truth.
For the first half an hour of the movie, I just watched. No crying….. no emotion even. I wondered if there was something wrong with me since I had pretty much cried from page 1 in the book. I worried that I wasn’t enjoying it. And that it would leave me cold. I didn’t have to worry.
The only film I can rememeber REALLY crying at in the cinema is A Walk To Remember which to this day will remain one of my all time favourite films. But I was a young teenager. Sobbing your heart out as a 27 year old is a different thing all together.
Hazel and Gus fall in love. Gus is perfectly cast. Ansel brings all the funny bits of Gus to life. Like when he always carried his cigarettes around and puts one in his mouth without lighting it for his metaphor.
“You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”
There are all the other funny moments like when Gus is disappointed that Hazel used her dying wish on Disneyland and bits like that. So of course, as we all know…. Gus is in remission for his cancer and he never used his wish. He wants to make Hazel’s dream come true of going to Amsterdam to meet her favourite author of her favourite book to get some answers about what happens at the end of his story, They go on the trip and have an unbelievably romantic time together despite the fact the author they went there for is a complete and utter dick.
It all plays out really nicely. The movie is great and has kept as much of the book as it possibly could.
When Gus tells Hazel that his cancer has come back as they are sitting alongside a beautiful river in Amsterdam, the whole packed out cinema gasped. Including me, even though I knew it was coming having read the book. It was a sad moment. But I didn’t cry. Others around me were falling apart, I have never known a cinema to be so united in crying!!
My tears started to fall when Gus calls Hazel for help from a petrol station because he is really ill. The cancer is getting to him. Of course it would get to him. He’s an 18 year old teenage guy who has just fallen in love, and he is dying. Throughout the book and the film, everybody is certain that Hazel is going to die.
But the moment Gus calls Hazel for help at the petrol station is the moment you realise that despite his positive nature, he’s scared. And that is heartbreaking. Gus is possibly the most happiest character I have ever read about in a book, and to see him fall apart is so horrible. This is the guy who kept the fact that his cancer had returned from Hazel just to protect her and puts her before everything. He is cheerful and sunny and seeing him weak and sick when he called Hazel really got to me.
The film sometimes takes you away from the fact they have cancer, as mad as that sounds. It just seems like any other love story. But then they throw in painful reminders like the petrol station scene and flashbacks of when Hazel went through chemo and it is too real.
It really is true when they say that everybody in the world knows somebody who has been affected by cancer. How awful. This film shows that life still happens despite the people that are battling this awful disease. People still fall in love and live life as much as any other person. It really is a film that will stick in your mind for a long time.
By the time Hazel and one of Gus’s pals Issac (Also had cancer and is now blind….) read their eulogies in front of Gus himself because he wanted to attend his own funeral, the whole cinema was in bits. I am not lying when I say that there was a man a few seats down from me who looked to be between 30-40 and he was crying as he sat alongside his sobbing girlfriend.
This film affected everyone in that screen. I was a mess. I’m not going to lie. I actually freaked out for a minute because just after Gus attends his own funeral , the tears were falling so thick and fast down my face that I didn’t think they would ever stop. The girls behind us had went from being mouthy and annoying at the start of the film when the adverts were on, to completely silent to finally…. HYSTERICALLY sobbing. I’m not exaggerating. I was actually holding my breath because I knew that if I breathed normally, everybody would have heard me crying as well. The amount of sniffles and rustling of tissue packets was really quite something. I have never been in a situation like that before which is just a nod to how great this film actually is.
Of course, for those who did read the book, we all knew what was coming. Gus died just 8 days after the moving funeral scene. Hazels reaction yet again opened the floodgates.
The film ends with Hazel staring up at the stars and saying ‘Okay’. Because that was hers and Gus’s word together. It was their thing. Whether you read the book, watch the movie or do both, you are left with the question of what happens to Hazel. She is dying of course but her condition is also sort of stable. As stable as someone with terminal cancer can be.
This story became so over hyped that before seeing the movie, I was getting sick of hearing about it. But after sitting through that film, I can safely say that it deserves every bit of hype. Every bit of praise. Multiple awards. It deserves everything.
Because it is a story that teaches you that the most heroic act of all is dying. It is the most brave thing you will ever do because you have no choice about it. It also teaches that we do not have to be loved by everyone, only by the people that matter. Everyone wants to be remembered for something, but there is nothing more important than being remembered by your loved ones. It is a weird story for me. Because as morbid, sad and depressing as it is…. it is also one of the happiest uplifting stories. And a film that can balance all of those feelings out is surely a good one.
As the credits rolled up on screen , everybody was just sitting there in stunned silence. The lights came back up and nobody actually moved. We all just sat there with our own thoughts, too dazed to stand up. It was crazy.
I am going to wrap this up now because there are only so many times I can say how brilliant the film adaptation was. And also ….Bananas are amazing.