THE FAULT IN OUR STARS – Rated – PG 13

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS – Rated PG 13

Scott Neustadter has teamed up once again with co-writer Michael H. Weber, just like they did to bring us such films as 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now, to bring to life John Green’s literary genius and New York Times bestseller – THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

Destined to live out her last days dragging her oxygen tank along for the ride, Hazel (Shailene Woodley), is coming to terms with her illness, as she tries to outlive yet another prognosis that her days are numbered.

As her mother (Laura Dern) and the Doctors are sure that she is depressed – well, Duh! –  They suggest that she seek solace in a teenage support group for cancer patients.  Wanting to make her parents happy, Hazel goes along with trying out the group for the time being.  Dismayed at the presence of their instructor, a Jesus loving testicular cancer survivor, Hazel has about had enough of this little group by the second go round.

Hazel tires to appease her mother one last time, and decides to go to one more meeting, when she bumps into a handsome stranger named Gus (Ansel Elgort).  Gus is attending with his best friend Isaac (Nat Wolff), who is struggling with the fact that his optic cancer has robbed him sight in one eye, and now he is going to have go under the knife again, as they remove his other eye, making him blind in the process.

Gus is intrigued by the beautiful Hazel, as Hazel is also intrigued to find out that Gus has lost a leg to Cancer too.  As the two begin to form a friendship, and learn about each other’s lives, they decide to read a book that the other one suggests.  The book Hazel suggests is “her favorite book of all time”, and Gus reads it diligently cover-to-cover.  The writer, Van Houten (Willem DaFoe), ends the book abruptly without ending many of the storylines, so Hazel is always questioning their endings.  She is so consumed by finding out what the endings should be, that she reaches out numerous times to Van Houten, but never receives a response.

Like any young man who wants to impress a girl, Gus reaches out to Van Houten too, in an attempt to get Hazel the answers she is seeking, when low and behold, Gus gets a response, and before you know it, they have been invited to visit Van Houten in Amsterdam.

When Hazel’s doctors decide that it isn’t wise for her to travel in her condition her parents decide to follow their hearts, and allow Hazel and Gus to make the trip anyway, as this is one wish they cannot deny her.  With the change in scenery and the blessing of their parents, Hazel and Gus decide that they are more than “just friends” and want to move to the next level in their relationship…..

Will Gus and Hazel finally profess their love for one another, as they have been fighting it for months?  Will Hazel make it through the trip, as her lungs seem to be giving out more with each passing day?  And does Gus have a surprise for Hazel, which throws them both into a tailspin as they try to hold on to, share their lives together for as long as they can?

I give THE FAULT IN OUR STARS an A+:  I knew going in that I would need a box of Kleenex to make it through this one, as it is about two teenagers trying to survive the BIG C!  But the emotions that you feel while watching this film are not contrived in the least bit, as you ride the roller coaster of feelings that Woodley and Elgort bring to the screen.  Talk about perfect casting – these two star crossed lovers seemed destined to find one another – as the chemistry is apparent from their first meeting – no doubt about that!  Woodley again is showing her depth as a powerhouse young actress with many parts continually coming her way.  And the incredibly handsome and gifted Elgort, held his own in the role opposite Woodley, which as a newcomer, speaks volumes.  Know going in that if you have had loss in your life due to Cancer, this film may be a little too close to home for you to enjoy, but I must also share that if I had to see a film about love, loss, living and dying, I would choose to watch this film again and again, as it was so intensely entertaining and touching, all at the same time.

Kathy Kaiser