The Fault in our Stars

Not the sort of film I would have made a point of seeing but my younger daughter, Catrin, loved it. She said it was the first film she cried in. Now that’s the easiest emotion to get from an audience. Make them love a puppy and kill it, they’ll reach for the tissues. But my older daughter, Mirain, said the book was great and wanted to see the movie. As Shailene Wooley and Birdy were going to be at the BAFTA screening for a Q&A, we went. And yes it is a weepy but there is a real honesty in the performances, especially from Shailene Wooley as Hazel Grace Lancaster. It’s all those little things that go into a believable performance.  I hate props given to actors that feel unreal, how many times do we see an actor carrying an empty suitcase? Well Hazel Grace needs to drag an oxygen tank around with her, constantly feeding her life giving breath through the tubes on her face. Shailene looks after this backpack, which looks heavy and inconvenient, as if it’s part of her. The handle goes up and down without ever a glance at it, second nature. It’s pulled, carried and protected almost without reference. It feels real. Just like Hazel’s relationship with Gus, with an equally terrific performance by Ansel Elgort. In my teen body swap movie Virtual Sexuality, we were guilty of using actors that were older than the characters and it showed, the Fault in the Stars does not make this mistake. Hazel Grace looks 16 with an authentic cheap haircut. The film is really a teenage tale of first love but it is so much more. Shailene correctly described it as the opposite of the regular dystopian teen movies.  Terms of Endearment with a Deborah Winger class performance is how I see it.

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