“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
Based on the New York Times’ Best Seller and the fifth novel by author John Green, The Fault In Our Stars is directed by Josh Boone and follows sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel (Shailene Woodley) who, encouraged by her parents, begins to attend a cancer support group. Here, Hazel meets the witty seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), an ex-basketball player and amputee. Over shared experiences and their love of literature, the two subsequently fall in love and take a trip to Amsterdam to visit their favourite, albeit reclusive, author. Exploring the highs and lows of being in love, The Fault In Our Stars, more importantly, details the extravagant highs and frequented lows of being in love and having cancer.
The following post is a review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book. You can read my review of the book on its own here.
Narrated by Hazel, told in the first person, just as the book is, the film adaptation opens with Hazel setting the scene of her story. This diary type narrative style is what made the novel feel so real, enabling Hazel to document every moment and thought in her life as a cancer patient and allowing the audience to know exactly what’s going on in her mind. This also works well with the adaptation as it’s as if we are watching a chapter in her life, making the story feel concise, relevant, and one told from the heart.
The most important thing about this adaptation was always going to be how Boone could handle the emotions, development, and chemistry between his two leads. The novel itself was pretty straightforward to adapt, with a basic plot and very little to get wrong, apart from the relationship between Hazel and Gus. We, as an audience, needed to see that these two characters love each other uncontrollably and to also feel the roller-coaster of emotions that they go through as we watch their story unfold.
On this rarity, Boone got the romance spot on. This isn’t just another teenage fantasy romance where we are forced to believe that two people love each other through the most unbelievable circumstances possible, this is a story about pure love; there’s true emotion, all of which you feel along the way, a yearning for accomplishment, and above all, a desire to simply live and love. That’s why the novel was such a brilliant read, and that’s why the adaptation works so well; Boone handles and develops his leads perfectly, making The Fault In Our Stars even enjoyable for the many boyfriends that will undoubtedly be dragged along to see it.
But not only is The Fault In Our Stars a compelling character-driven drama and passionate romance, there are also many moments of comedy. These two teenagers may be in love, but they also want to make the most of what little time they have left, so there’s a lot of fun to be had. Above all of that, however, The Fault In Our Stars is a major tear-jerker. The only reason you won’t find yourself in tears by the end, like me, is because everybody else around you at the cinema will be absolutely bawling their eyes out.
Despite not being able to forget about Woodley and Elgort’s brother/sister relationship in the recent film adaptation of the young adult dystopian novel, Divergent, the two have a lovely chemistry together and you can easily tell that they have a lot of fun in each other’s company. Both give excellent performances and are undeniably two young actors to watch out for. Woodley is already a rising star with her break-out performance in 2012’s The Descendants, but The Fault In Our Stars also makes way for Ansel Elgort. The rest of the cast work well too, with Hazel’s parents played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell, and Van Houten by Willem Dafoe.
With beautiful scenery, with a section of the film being set in Amsterdam, and a fun and well-designed use of social media on-screen, The Fault In Our Stars also has an excellent soundtrack, which is something that always betters a teen rom-com like this. The whole feel of the film comes together brilliantly, leaving very little left to be criticised.
Differences From The Book:
- When Hazel first visits Gus’ house, Gus’ parents do not let Hazel in his bedroom. In the film, they aren’t bothered.
- Hazel’s friend from school, Kaitlyn, isn’t in the film. They go shopping together and talk about “normal” high school things.
- There is also no mention of Gus’ ex-girlfriend Carolina, who is now dead. This, therefore, doesn’t cause a conflict between Gus and Hazel.
- There is a scene in the book where Hazel lets a little girl in the shopping mall try on her oxygen. This is not included in the film.
- There is no mention of Hazel’s mum’s love of unimportant holidays.
- Hazel and Isaac have a slightly closer relationship in the book. She even visits him in hospital.
- During the egging scene, Hazel remains in the car as she does not approve but, in the film, she is more than happy to be involved.
- When Hazel picks Gus up before their flight to Amsterdam, Hazel hears Gus arguing with his mum. This scene isn’t included in the film, meaning that the “shock” Gus later reveals comes as more of a surprise. Gus’ parents have very little focus at all, throughout.
- In the book, Gus tells Hazel he loves her on the plane. In the film, he does this whilst they are at dinner in Amsterdam. On top of this, this meal is outside in the book, whereas it was filmed indoors for the film.
- The film does not include Van Houten’s Shakespeare quote: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves.” It’s a shame since this is where the title of the book comes from. It also doesn’t include my second favourite quote: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
- Whilst Hazel and Gus sit on the swing set, she does not then put it up for sale in the film.
- In the book, Gus “pisses the bed” and Hazel hears him mumbling in his sleep, which is when she realises how bad his condition has got. His deterioration is then after quickened up.
- In the book, Hazel searches everywhere for Gus’ letter, and finally has to email Van Houten’s assistant to see if she knows anything about it. In the film, Van Houten leaves it in her car on his visit.
There are only minor changes in this adaptation of a beautifully developed story, making The Fault In Our Stars an even more heart-breaking watch, as we follow two excellently cast characters on their emotional journeys.