(Originally posted on 21st July.)
So, this is probably the latest film review in the history of film reviews, but bear with me because as well as talking about The Fault in Our Stars I want to use it as a jumping off point to talk about film adaptations in general and what makes them successful, for me.
I went to see TFiOS film with one of my best friends a couple of weeks ago and I was both excited to see it and worried I wouldn’t like it; I’m always wary of book to film adaptations and it would have been so easy to get the tone of this one wrong. I was dreading having another Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix moment sat in the cinema (you’ll be pleased to know, I have made my peace with that film now and actually quite like it). However, I needn’t have worried because TFiOS was everything it should have been, for me.
1. Some of the writing in the book is quite pretentious, namely a lot of Augustus’ dialogue, albeit deliberately so. Whilst this works for the book, I was a little worried about how it would translate to speech without sounding staged and being frankly uncomfortable to listen to (you know, when you have to turn off the news because a guest is just saying really stupid things and it’s physically painful to watch?). Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and somehow the delivery of these lines captured that slightly awkward discovering-the-world-and-acting-older-than-I-am essence of being a teenager. It’s sort of hard to explain what I mean by that, but it’s that awareness that you’re growing up but not realising you’re not yet grown up stage. Whatever it is, the film captured it really nicely and, more than anything, Hazel and Gus felt like genuine teenagers, not just sick kids, which was probably the most important thing the film had to get right.
2. The characters. Every character was brought to life wonderfully. Particularly minor characters such as Patrick, and Hazel’s parents who I didn’t have an overly developed picture of before the film. The film allowed these characters to take on shape in a way that the book, by its nature, could not. Maybe that’s a fault of my imagination more than anything, but I liked developing a clearer idea of these characters beyond their relationships with Hazel.
3. The details. Even things like the posters in Hazel’s room were exactly right, which was awesome.
I honestly loved this film in a way I didn’t expect to. With all the talk from John Green throughout the filming process about it being done well and by people who love and care about the story, I was still expecting not to like it, I think. Of course, there are things I wish had been included: the scene with the young girl trying on Hazel’s cannula, the scene with her friend Kaitlyn etc. but I only want those scenes as a reader and fan on TFiOS book. In reality, whilst such scenes are important to the book and its readers, the film stands complete without them. Director, Josh Boone, has succeeded in replicating the emotional charge of Green’s story and has created something that is simultaneously bound closely to the original text and is also a separate entity.