Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, and Sam Trammell
Directed By: Josh Boone
Yesterday, I watched a sneak peek of this book as a film that had been directed by the talented Josh Boone and the three friends who I saw it with absolutely LOVED it. I appreciated the work that went into the film (AND THE AWESOME WRITING!) but I didn't quite share my friends' level of enthusiasm.
Here's why I can only give The Fault in Our Stars two out of five stars:
Shailene Woodley is an impressive actress and her performance as seventeen year old Hazel Grace was truly inspiring. Shailene's handsome co star, Ansel Elgort, played her love interest, Augustus Waters.
Okay, here we go...
First of all, in the recently released film, Divergent, Ansel plays Shailene's brother. He's also going to play her brother in the sequel to Divergent. So, it was completely weird to see Shailene making out with an actor who my brain had already classified as "her brother". But I'm sure a lot of people won't have this problem, that's just me and my weird brain.
So that wasn't the real issue, the real problem was that I couldn't see an authentic Augustus Waters in Ansel's performance. He's definitely a good actor, but I felt like he didn't understand Gus and made up for this lack of understanding by smiling a lot and kind of "overacting". His performance was BIG, like something I'd expect to see on stage.
Switching gears here, in The Notebook Ryan Gosling plays "Noah", who is actually a lot like "Gus". They're both vibrant characters, people who light up a room with their presence and who love unreservedly. Ryan made "Noah" his own, he owned that role and brought it to life by not just delivering well written lines, but by truly feeling every word he said. I didn't see that in Ansel's performance.
Similarly, Laura Dern and Sam Trammell (who played Hazel's parents) also struck me as inauthentic. And this is odd because I typically love Laura Dern's performances. This led to me to wonder if maybe the actors hadn't had enough time to prepare or if something was wrong on set that threw everyone a little off. In any case, in the scenes between Shailene, Laura, and Sam, I didn't feel any real familial connection, they just felt like actors who were trying to get through a scene. If I could've cast this movie, I would've cast either Nicholas Hoult or Sam Clafin as Augustus Waters and Greg Kinnear and Monica Potter as Hazel's parents.
That being said, a couple of actors who did a really great job with their roles were The Green- I mean, Willem Dafoe and Mike Birbiglia.
So, while Shailene and the two actors mentioned above made me believe in their characters, I found that the bulk of the other performances didn't feel genuine.
Mr. Boone is a good director, he did a fantastic job with Stuck in Love, so I'm not sure what happened with The Fault in Our Stars...The shooting style felt like that of a made for TV movie in that the camera was often static and positioned on one character for far too long. There were few cinematic moments and the timing/editing of various shots felt "off".
When you have a script as beautiful and funny as The Fault in Our Stars, I can understand wanting to keep the cinematography understated, but with this movie the camera work didn't turn out to be "understated", it simply fell flat. Something similar to what Sofia Coppola did with Lost In Translation would have been wonderful with this movie. Lost in Translation's' cinematography wasn't that of a Terrence Malick film because it didn't need to be, the acting and script spoke for itself. Ms. Coppola directed it with a POV that focused on irony and detail, which is sort of like the way John Green writes, so I think that style would've been perfect for The Fault In Our Stars.
In any case, I still think Josh Boone is a good director and I'll go see whatever movie he comes out with next, I'm just not sure what happened with this one...
So, in conclusion if you're wondering whether or not to go see The Fault in Our Stars , YES, GO!!!
The script is BEAUTIFUL and it'll probably make you appreciate life even more than you already do, plus that you might like the acting and directing a lot better than I did : )