Tuesday 17 June 2014

FROM PAGE TO SCREEN: The Fault in Our Stars

Adapted from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton, 2012)

JUNE 2014 

SHAILENE WOODLEY ~ Hazel Grace Lancaster
ANSEL ELGORT ~ Augustus Waters
LAURA DERN ~ Frannie Lancsater
SAM TRAMMELL ~ Michael Lancaster
WILLEM DEFORE ~ Peter van Houten


What’s it about?
Hazel has cancer and her mum is sending her to support group. There she meets Augustus Waters: sarcastic, witty, and oh-so-pretentious. They can’t help but fall in love as they navigate their illnesses and travel to meet the author of Hazel’s favourite book.

Does it hold up?
I was lucky enough to be invited by the lovely ladies of Penguin to an exclusive advanced screening in Covent Garden last Wednesday for bloggers and vloggers and reviewers. I did a happy dance in the car on the way home from work as I read that email; my colleague was rather confused... When I arrived on my tod and didn’t spot a single face I recognised, I was a little nervous, but then Bella, Cicely and Rhys turned up, quickly followed by Jo from Once Upon a Bookcase who I hadn’t seen in forever. Once we were ticked off the list and ushered into the screen we found a packet of Tyrells Sweet and Salty popcorn, a bottle of water and a TFiOS stickered packet of tissues on each seat – such a lovely touch! After a brief introduction from the Penguin Children’s MD, the film began and everyone prepared their tear ducts. 

The main worry I had about this adaptation was Shailene Woodley. I didn’t like her in Divergent; I didn’t feel anything from her and I didn’t think she brought Tris to life, but now I think that may have been the character’s fault, or the writer, because she was fantastic as Hazel. I’d even go as far as to say that Shailene and Ansel are Hazel and Gus. Their connection is genuine and the affection between the characters comes across in every touch, every look – I fell hook, line, and sinker for them. There was a possibility that Gus could come across in a way that was a little polarising but he was endearingly charming and pretentious.

Hazel’s struggles to breath and her difficulty with stairs and standing for too long was subtly there throughout the film and then emphasised as she had her rough patches. Ansel carried himself as if he had had half of his leg amputated. It was in the way he moved and sat and generally carried himself. I was in awe at how they managed to portray the illnesses Hazel and Gus had with such sensitivity and delicacy. It’s easy to see the cancer of the characters as secondary to their love story, but that is what brought them together, after all, and I was worried that it would be changed from the honest way that John Green portrayed it in the novel. I needn’t have worried. Dying of cancer wasn’t softened or romanticised or given the Hollywood treatment in any way. The characters retained their dignity while honestly portraying the pain and the guilt and the fear.

Another element of the novel that I had hoped the movie would maintain is the balance of humour and wit with pain and tears. Luckily, it really did. There were so many times where I genuinely laughed aloud, and I did cry a few times as well. Okay, more than a few times. Isaac was a huge contribution to the comedic moments – Nat Wolff is fantastic. I do wish he could have had a little more screen time.

The novel was followed very closely by the film and all of the big quotes were used practically word perfectly and it really helped to connect the two. The way that Hazel and Gus build up their initial connection through text did that in the same way, and I really loved the way that texts and emails were shown on the screen – in little speech bubbles. It was cute and reflected the novel cover. It’s a little something extra that I really loved. 

The Fault in Our Stars is beautiful, funny, heartbreaking and perfect. I couldn’t have wished for more. I want to see it again.

Rating: 9.5/10

Book or film?
I love them both equally, though of course the book will have a special place in my heart because of how much it made me bawl... I think the movie is a perfect complement to the novel and will bring the book, and YA, to an even wider audience.

DISCLAIMER: I wasn’t asked by Penguin or 20th Century Fox to review the film in exchange for the viewing, nor am I being rewarded for anything I write about it.



  1. I disagree about Shailene Woodley. I thought she looked right and was very good as Hazel, but that her depiction of lung cancer varied from totally fine to really struggling. Yea, when she struggled with stairs, but mostly she was fine. I don't know, I'm sure she did her research, but I've seen illness and disabilities done so much better. Also My granddad has lung cancer... and I just wasn't convinced by her.

  2. I was so tempted to go to an advance screening last week (not the Penguin one - the fan one's on the Thursday) - kind of regretting not going now. Silver lining though I'll be seeing it on Sat!

    So glad it's as good as everyone is saying! :)


Leave a message, I'd love to hear from you!