Go see The Fault In Our Stars.
I can’t be any more direct than that. You’ve probably heard about the movie, based on the massively best-selling John Green book of the same title. It centers around Hazel and Gus, two whip-smart teens who are both dealing with cancer. Yes, it’s a Young Adult story supposedly, but you’ll love it if you’re 90.
I read the book last summer, while on vacation at a rented cottage, then saw the movie this summer while staying at the same rental cottage. It’s not like I’m looking for cancer stories while I’m on vacation; I’ve had enough cancer stories to fill a book (yeah, literally!).
This seemingly simple story is fantastic. It’s life-affirming, even while dealing with horrible diseases. It’s funny, even while being sad. And it’s beautifully told with real emotional heft. The type of feelings you experience seem to be dictated by where you are in life.
My youngest daughter was moved most by a speech made by one of the secondary teen characters. My wife found meaning in the parent’s struggles. Me, well I tended to look at it from a patient’s perspective. I was brought to tears when one of them got some good news. So there’s something for everyone.
Shailene Woodley, whom we first noticed in The Descendants as George Clooney’s daughter, was absolutely incredible as Hazel. Along with her ever-present oxygen tank, she inhabited the screen with a type of emotion that’s hard to describe, yet incredible to watch. They might as well only plan on four other Best Actress nominations, because she’s a lock to get one.
There are other great bits about this movie. The snappy male lead, Ansel Elgort’s father is a professional photographer and named him after my hero Ansel Adams. Elgort and Woodley starred together earlier this year in Divergent, which I didn’t see and got roundly panned. I plan on renting it, though, simply to see how their chemistry played out under completely different circumstances.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia was appropriately subdued as the cancer support group leader. He may very well be the next comedian to hit the big, big time, like Louis CK. And, of course, there was Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek whom I couldn’t take my eyes off of. I’ve just finished scouring IMDB and have added some of her other movies to my Netflix queue. The wonders of the internet!
There is so much more to say about this movie, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for those few out there who haven’t heard about it. Everyone I’ve spoken with who has seen the movie has also read the book. And they are all blown away by both. Sure, see the movie THEN read the book if you’d like (though that sentence may get me in trouble with the Literati).
It doesn’t matter how you experience this story, just experience it!