The movie was released here this past weekend and I was more than a little excited, having read all of John Green's books and watched the build up through the filming of this movie on his twitter, I was more than reading to see the final product.
Like many people I had watched an interview or two with the young stars and therefore I went into the movie with certain expectations. Shailene Woodley has a notable backlog of movies and her performance in 'The Descendants,' convinced me that she would probably carry the movie. However I had my reservations about the male lead, played by Ansel Elgort, as his interview style is very confident and sauve but in a slightly forced way. I feared that this would play out in the character of Gus. I had also seen a clip of himself and Hazel in his basement with Isaac and the scene had seemed awkward and unrealistic. Therefore despite my excitement I had slightly lowered expectations.
Well the movie exceeded even my best expectations. I laughed, cheered and cried, and cried and cried and cried! The first few scenes between Hazel and Gus do appear a little forced and the first time that Gus shows his 'metaphor,' it, again, feels awkward but within 20 minutes, and with Ansel and Shailene engaging and enhancing each other with their performances, the movie hits what feels like a steady stride and then the emotional roller-coaster kicks in.
By the time we reach the emotional climax I am so enthralled with Gus and Hazel's story that every facial expression plucks at my heart strings and leaves me either giddy with excitement or in a puddle of tears. Hazel's parents played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell also performed extremely well and added a level of external perspective from within the movie, although one might argue that they are a little too lenient for parents that have com so close to losing their daughter and could lose her finally at the drop of a hat. That said, the story line is not supposed to be to serious, it's romantic and yet in the area where we too often see over-romanticism, the subject of cancer, here the story is brutally honest and doesn't pull any punches.
It is in the area of discussing cancer that I really admire this story and this film. Roger Ebert wrote about movies on cancer (like '50/50' and 'Restless') that they create a comforting myth about cancer, and I can see the need for such movies. However it seems that there was a real need for a movie like TFIOS with it's combination of honesty about cancer and message that some infinities are bigger than others and people who are ill are more than their illness, more than their 'fight' and way more than this one aspects of their lives! I loved the movie and although I'm surely not doing it justice with this review I would recommend that you check it out for yourself and I think, once you recover emotional, you will agree that this is an amazing story and a wonderful film.
Images property of Temple Hill Entertainment and Dutton Books/John Green