In the last couple of months, I have enjoyed the privilege of being friends with someone who works for a digital marketing company, in that I have copped free advanced screening tickets of several movies and events. Yesterday was no different, except that it was one highly anticipated film adaptation for the fans of the book The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I have read that book late 2012 when my gay ex-boss lent it to me and boy did I cry buckets over that story– and that was even before someone died (Oops). Back then, my boss warned me that it was heartbreaking but I was skeptic that it will make me cry and that I was chalking it up to my boss being more emotional than I am. Several chapters in and I was crying like a baby.
The Fault in Our Stars is a 2014 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Josh Boone, based on John Green‘s 2012 novel of the same name. The film stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff. Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. Hazel’s condition is terminal, and Augustus decides to grant her wish to meet the author of her favorite novel An Imperial Affliction in Amsterdam. (Wikipedia, 2014)
What appealed to me more than the poignant star-crossed lovers plot was how Hazel’s parents are strong, loving, solid and hopeful. The kind of couple that holds on to each other amidst a strong current instead of being swept away by the looming possibility of cancer taking their only child away. I have only read the book once but that stayed with me. Let’s face it, grief can do a lot of collateral damage to those left and relationships can crumble by the sheer weight of it. Seeing the adaptation, I was wondering if it will strike the same chord with me and I was surprised to find a different one instead. I usually avoid reading/ rereading a book so close to the film release, so that I would not obsess over minute details not present in the adaptation. From a book fan who waited a year to see this, I was not disappointed. I have long trusted Shailene Woodley’s ability to make me cry after seeing The Descendants. Any other cracks rendered by the film adaptation to the hollow in my chest was entirely my undoing. What translated into film as I try to see it in the perspective of someone who has not read the book yet, is that the love between Hazel and Augustus, is all the more important in its immediacy and the fact that they would not be around long enough (um, cancer) to further explore the highs and lows of a relationship. Levithan once said that,
“People take love’s continuity for granted, just as they take their body’s continuity for granted. They don’t realize that the best thing about love is its regular presence. Once you can establish that, it’s an added foundation to your life.” (Every Day, David Levithan)
Hazel and Gus certainly did not take their love for granted. Risked falling even when they know that their days are numbered. There was a scene where Hazel’s dad was trying to comfort her and he states that Hazel had the privilege of loving Gus. How many of us can claim deeply loving someone and that a world without them is unimaginable? Count me out. But it didn’t stop me from crying. Even the innate strength of Hazel’s parents were apparent in the film. Gus’s parents though barely made a dent. In the book, there was a foreshadowing about Gus’s fate before they left for Amsterdam. None of that was shown in the movie which has blindsided the viewers who have not read the book. Other than that, I cannot complain on what has been a wonderful retelling of Green’s novel that has reached out to people outside the target audience of Young Adults. Could the kind of love that Hazel and Gus had survive if we take cancer out of the picture? I’d like to think so. It is hard work and takes certain amount of risk to fall for someone, much less continue loving them for the rest of one’s life however short it may be. There are people lucky enough, and brave enough to find that kind of love– the kind that is lasting, hopeful, strong, solid and real.The fault was solely in my star, in that, I might never find that kind of love in real life. **