“This movie just sort of automatically ended up on my list without much thought. Widely loved source material, legit cast, fair amount of buzz and support. It was automatic. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in the theater wondering what the heck I’m doing there. This is a tear jerker teen romance. Since when does that scream out “”Dawn movie”” to you? The movie started and Shailene Woodley’s Hazel had a line about how fake movie romances are, but this story would be real. I rolled my eyes. Oh God, what did I do?
I really did not expect to enjoy this. We did have a lot of the annoyances I expected. A sweet and cute boy too good to be true, whose lines were cheesy as hell, yet absolutely swoon inducing. A sappy plot, dialog with constant declarations of love, and more romantic time spent together than realistically (or humanly possible). Enough to make me the strange combination of depressed, jealous, giddy, incredulous, hopeful, and dismayed. I don’t like that combination. Yet somehow, I was drawn in. I was absolutely drawn in.
I read something the other day, praising the parent characters in YA novels, highlighting them as the real heroes and high points. This was certainly the case here. The author of that article boasted a bigger crush on Sam Trammel, playing Hazel’s father, than Ansel Elgort’s Gus, the love interest. I can see where she’s coming from. He was behind some of my favorite moments in the film (I think the airport sign wins). Laura Dern was a wonderful mother, the kind you wish could be yours, no matter how wonderful yours might actually be.
But you know what, our young lovers were actually pretty great too. Shailene is not an actress to be trifled with, commanding the screen with the emotional power of a seasoned actress twice her age. And it was impossible not to fall in love with Ansel’s Gus. Even when he came off more smarmy than charming, you were under his spell. Or at least I was.
Sure, things got predictable, dialog got too sappy, and the story was pretty basic. But as a character piece, it was victorious. I’ll admit to feeling tears starting to well up thru the whole last act. However, they never actually fell. I believe Toy Story 3 still holds the distinction as the only one with that honor (although I feel there was something else recently that came damn close, but may have been handicapped by the one unfair advantage that is guaranteed to get me, but I can’t remember what the film was).
Confession time. Back in junior high, I was really into author Lurlene McDaniel, a YA author who wrote about illness mixed with teen romance. Don’t Die My Love, about a star football player who gets cancer and the girl who loves him, was my favorite. I’m embarassed to admit this now. I think Fault was much deeper than those books I ate up back then, but I can understand why this one is having the impact it does. Ultimately I think the subject matter is important. I just could have done with the story being a little more subtle and grounded, and a little less obvious.
The Fault in Our Stars – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n