MOVIE DATE: The Fault In Our Stars
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
DIRECTOR: Josh Boone
THE SKINNY: Not only do Hazel (Woodley) and Gus (Elgort) have to deal with their usual teenage problems, but both also have the added burden of living with cancer. She has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. From the time they meet, both are inexplicably drawn to each other and a magical relationship is born.
THE CONSENSUS: Diehard romantics — guys and girls alike — will swoon over this weepie.
Guys, you can do this.
If I wasn't assigned to watch it, there's no way I'd voluntarily go for a weepie.
And yet, it's pretty good. It's sharply funny, amazingly not too mawkish and has a deliciously dry approach to death by cancer.
Take tissues with you - even if you resist the ol' hot eyes, there's a strong chance your partner won't. Fifteen minutes from the end, the cinema was so full of audible snot, it was like someone had thrown a flu bomb.
It's also refreshing that the cast is not too beautiful - in fact, Elgort looks uncannily like a hunky Michael Cera.
Even if this film stank, it will do, and has done, huge numbers as its in-built audience is ready to worship it.
But for the rest of us?
This is a rare case where the two leads visibly improve over the course of the film, Woodley being the better one. Elgort's acting is too obvious for him to be believable at first.
Plus, Woodley is either a very good actress (doubtful) or she really has a thing for her co-star - from the way she looks at and unconsciously touches him. Yeah, that's a crush.
Shame that he doesn't feel the same nor act that way, so the flirting is one-sided.
One small piece of acting advice to the filmmakers: next time you include a big cameo, try not to cast someone so good it embarrasses all other attempts at acting.
But The Fault In Our Stars is not bad at all, a film I'd even consider seeing again.
This is how young adult romance should be done.
Not pining after or lusting over a sparkly bloodsucker or model-esque half-human half-angel.
Not that there's no pining or lust in this movie. Gus openly checks Hazel out the very moment he sees her.
The heroine isn't a saint either, talking in her opening monologue about wanting to experience making out.
Their romance is far more real, tender and heart-rending than anything we've seen in all the other young adult book-to-film adaptations - and it's not because we're dealing with cancer.
Woodley and Elgort are brilliant as the star-crossed lovers, thriving on the chemistry they developed from working on their earlier film, Divergent, where they played siblings.
Both handle the challenging subject matter with grace and the correct amount of humour and wit.
While Elgort balances roguish charm and sensitivity well, this is ultimately Woodley's star vehicle and she carries the movie's entire emotional weight, showing her range much better here than in Divergent.
She imbues Hazel with the right amount of strength, despair, joy, anguish and vulnerability, which is why it's so darn hard to stop the waterworks.
Yes, be warned.
This is a real weepie, but it doesn't come across as manipulative as cancer is treated as just another one of many teenage problems.