Avid fans of the extremely popular John Green novel may disagree, but the huge box-office success of The Fault in our Stars is a surprise to almost everyone in the movie business, even the studio that made it, 20th Century Fox. Very few picked a youthful romance story of two teenagers suffering from cancer affiliated conditions would appeal to a broad audience. I am happy to admit I predicted this to make an impact in cinemas causing the ‘house full’ sign go up, something that unfortunately happens so little these days. Having witnessed public reaction to the trailer, it became obvious a box of tissues would be needed to get through the entire film.
So often not the case, just ask Stephen King, this movie adaptation is better than the book. Yes, I said it’s better! I’ll tell you why. Things of little significance from the book have either been tweaked or cut completely which makes for a smoother flowing love story of Hazel & Gus embracing the emotional subject. It’s more of a celebration of life which is against type in a movie like this. The casting of Shailene Woodley is monumental to bringing Hazel to life. Already an Oscar nominee for her remarkable mature performance as George Clooney’s in The Descendants, she literally commands every second of screen time.
The cannula Hazel wears is almost a character on its own. Instead of it coming off or being lost in scenes, Hazel is constantly touching it, wheeling it, maneuvering it on her face to make it look as uncomfortable as it probably really is. When the pair first meet, it’s through a rather clumsy big bump into each other, bodies bouncing off each other similar to what you would see in the hallways of an 80s high school movie. The book simply has them staring at each other in the cancer support group. Keeping that trend, their first kiss is magnificently random and what makes it even further unique, it’s inside the actual Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. It also comes after an intense walk up stairs.
Casting of two major adult characters is significant. Subdued in the book, Laura Dern brings life to the mum remaining upbeat in the most harsh circumstances. Willem Dafoe gives the author that Hazel looks up to until being deflated by that horrible, villainous edge he effortlessly can do with just a facial expression. There are also less video game scenes, thankfully, and unlike multiple book to movie scripts, the ending remains the same. The similar themed My Sisters Keeper was guilty of happiness, upsetting fans by changing the ending to suit Hollywood schmaltz. From the early sounds of sniffling, short gasps leading to longer deeper breaths to when I turned around during the end credits to girls standing in the cinema group hugging, The Fault in our Stars is an unexpected hit chick-flick.
*Romantic movies don’t always have to be clear to appeal to female orientated audiences. Some love stories are hidden amongst movies with little or no obvious date-movie appeal.
One of the biggest shocks was Ghost. Before Patrick Swayze was cast in one of his most loved roles behind Dirty Dancing, the unbelievable idea of Australian Paul Hogan, riding on the success of Crocodile Dundee, was considered. Thankfully Swayze joined Demi Moore for an erotic lesson in home pottery leading to five Oscar nominations with a win for Whoopie Goldberg. The story of a murdered husband talking through a fake clairvoyant to find closure was not expected to be a hit and was passed up through all the studios until Paramount came on board.
Serial offender James Spader always seems to pop up in obscure romantic odysseys but the most notorious was Sex, Lies & Videotape. Controversial with its open approach to female sexuality, not for all tastes and made on a shoestring budget, it took Cannes then the world by storm. Understanding why is confusing as it always seemed tame to me but fiercely acted. Recently Warm Bodies was first dismissed as an irrelevant addition to the Zombie apocalypse unless you were aware of the book it was adapted from. Romeo & Juliet undead was a sleeper hit that actually grew in box office as weeks went by and people raved. True love reigns again.
There’s Something about Mary, in itself was an unlikely hit and remains a turning point in the career of risk-taking Cameron Diaz. However within the movie, she suggests Harold & Maude is one of the greatest love stories ever. She’s spot on and it created invested interest and a new following for the quirky 1970s oddity. The story of a senior citizen and a teenage boy who meet attending random funerals is truly touching, literally in more ways than one. The Cat Stevens folk soundtrack adds to period authenticity but as a black comedy romance, you won’t find better.
The list is endless. Movies can come out of nowhere to enchant and pull on heartstrings. Females make up a higher percentage in overall global cinema ticket sales. Stories that make you cry, laugh, group hug or all three as The Fault in Our Stars does is why I love movies so much.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.