Monday, 14 July 2014

Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Next Review: Hercules

Based on the popular romantic novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars is another story about a pair of star-crossed lovers who care immensely for each other but couldn't be together due to their unfortunate circumstances. I believe for those who have never read the book or watch the trailers would assume that this film to be the same as those weepy, sappy melodramatic romance, right? Well, not exactly.

Surprisingly, the film is a heartwarming and touching love story wrapped in exceedingly witty dialogue and memorable one liners, successfully preventing itself from making its way into melodramatic territory. The comedy and romance is well-balanced. The film is also slightly mature and wise in its content and character perspectives. There are quite a few philosophical questions from the film that's worth mentioning: What do you fear most? Is it oblivion? Is there any meaning or purpose in life? Can we truly outlast death by being remembered by everyone in the world? What should we actually seek in our short temporary life here on Earth?

The main female lead, Hazel, who suffered through cancer most of her life, doesn't anticipate much from her life, as her days are numbered. She is depressed and given up on her life. Out of nowhere, here comes Augustus, a surprisingly charming cancer survivor who's seemingly optimistic about his future. Augustus's charming smile and his relentless devotion of love for Hazel successfully captured her heart. They're both equally smart and the on-screen chemistry between Shailene (Hazel) and Ansel (Augustus) made their instant connection both believable and relatable.

Shailene and Ansel both provide convincing performances as a couple. The romance was subtle, it feels honest and realistic enough for the audience to be emotionally invested in them. Their affection for each other deepens as the film progresses and it's heartbreaking to see that this relationship doesn't last in the end. (I don't think I'm spoiling it, as we all know what we signed up for even before watching it). The film doesn't overly exploit the romance drama that's usually comes with the chronic disease, which is commendable. Rather than making it the typical depressing melodramatic tearjerker, the film has a bittersweet ending with surprising depth and meaning about life. The eulogies written by the main leads for each other is thought-provoking and heartfelt at the same time.

However, I have a few gripes about the film though...I would appreciate if the film adds more scenes about their cancer sufferings, just to show that having cancer is not a joke. The film seemingly gives an impression to the general audience that stage 4 cancer sufferers can still live and converse normally like many others without the repetitive, time-consuming treatments, countless hospitalization or dealing with severe side effects from drugs. The film does feel draggy a bit in some parts as well. Overall, despite a few minor shortcomings, The Fault in Our Stars is still undeniably a decent romantic drama comedy that's well worth your time and money.

Rating: 8/10

Note: Although the film didn't make me cry (but almost though), be sure to bring some tissues if you're an emotionally sensitive person. By the way, I just love the main song All of the Stars, by Ed Sheeran. Be sure to check out the music video at Youtube.

Some great quotes from the film:

"There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten, and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does." - Hazel's response to Augustus's fear of oblivion.

"Gus, I’m a grenade. One day, I’m going to blow up, and I’m going to obliterate everything in my wake. And I don’t want to hurt you." - Hazel

"Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you." - Augustus

"You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have a say in who hurts you." - Augustus

"I am in love with you Hazel Grace. And I know that love is just a shout into the void and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you. All of your efforts to keep me away from you are going to fail." - Augustus 

"Pain demands to be felt...Without pain, we could not know joy." 

"Life isn’t a wish-granting factory." - Augustus

Augustus likes having a pack of cigarettes in his pocket, and he likes putting one in his mouth occasionally, but he never ever lights it.
"They don't kill you unless you light them...and I've never lit one. It's a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing." - Augustus

"Only now that I loved a grenade did I understand the foolishness of trying to save others from my own impending fragmentation: I couldn't unlove Augustus Waters. And I didn't want to." - Hazel

"You say you’re not special because the world doesn't know about you, but that’s an insult to me. I know about you." - Hazel

Please do not read the following if you haven't watch the film yet. The following eulogies are provided for those who wish to know what exactly did the main leads say to each other in detail.

Hazel's eulogy to Augustus:
"My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won't be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because like all real love stories, it will die with us. As it should. I'd hoped that he'd be eulogizing me, because there is no one I'd rather have. I can't talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this. There is an infinite between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many days of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You have me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

The letter wrote by Augustus to Van Houten for Hazel's eulogy:
Van Houten,
    "I'm a good person but a shitty writer. You're a shitty person but a good writer. We'd make a good team. I don't want to ask you for any favours, but if you have time- and from what I saw, you have plenty- I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I've got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a coherent whole or whatever? Or even just tell me what I should say differently. Here's the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That's what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars.  (Okay maybe I'm not such a shitty writer. But I can't pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.)  Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We're as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we are not likely to do either. People will say it's sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it's not sad, Van Houten it's triumphant. It's heroic.  After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious. I walked in behind the nurse and got to sit next to her for like ten minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die before I could tell her that I was going to die, too. I just held her hand and tried to imagine a world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar. What else? She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her. You don't get to choose the ones you hurtin this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers. I do. I do, Augustus."

Next Review: Hercules

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