The Fault In Our Stars had one of the saddest trailers ever made, and if it were a movie it would be perfect in and of itself. Unfortunately, movies are longer than two minutes and include all sorts of annoying things like plot and character development, making it near impossible for The Fault In Our Stars to live up to its trailer let alone its book. The movie was written by the 500 Days of Summer team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber who managed to get slightly doomed romance right while still keeping Zooey Deschanel the goddess of light and gentle soft-focus wet dreams. That movie had the light ironic touch of Marc Webb (who went on to do more amazing things of the Spider-Man kind) directing it. [The Fault In Our Stars](movie:602185) has Josh Boone in his sophomore effort trying to direct around cancer and doomed love stories cliche that are aching meta on page but too literary for the screen. The John Green book was a YA adult success because it had a 100 quotable perfect love lines recited by a perfect boyfriend to a dying girlfriend wishing for a perfect imperfect end.
Of course, who dies and who gets to live a little bit longer is easy to figure out. Shailene Woodley looking too bright and radiant for the cancer she has keeps TFIOS together with a performance that lets you remember the love and not the pain. At its heart TFIOS is a love story and not a cancer tale. It’s a John Hughes movie with cancer as the social commentary. TFIOS deftly balances off dark and light, optimism and pessimism in the same adroit way that Hughes did in his teen romances.
Josh Boone only has to make sure that there is enough of a restraint/good taste split to keep TFIOS from turning mush. Ansel Elgort has the easy job of being the good looking, smiling and forever hopeful boyfriend. Still, it’s Woodley simple, pitiless, gentle-hearted portrayal that keeps the movie spinning. It’s not Love Story, it’s Love Story Deux, two times the disease and three times the tears. It leaves with its self-respect intact.