In which I discuss the Fault in our Stars (the film) sort of…

So I just came back from watching the film, The Fault in our Stars, which incidentally pushed me into finally making a blog. I’m not going to explain what the movie is about, you can read that here, I just wanted to talk about my thoughts about the film overall. This is not so much a review, though I loved the film, but more of what I took away from it.  Actually, I was inspired to write this post because while on the drive back from the theater, my sister and brother said a couple of interesting things about the movie and what they got from it.

“Movies can be important”.

That’s what my sister said to me during the drive home from the theater. Movies can be important. It’s a strange thought really, one that never seems to cross my mind, or anyone’s really, as they consume all this visual media. I mean, when you think about it everything has a purpose, a function. We eat because we want to be full, we drink because we’re thirsty, we study–supposedly–because we want to learn and so on. Movies of course, have a purpose to, but just what that purpose  is can often be debated.

The difference between a film and a movie
Don’t be a movie. The world is full of movies, be a film.

I’ve always considered films to be a form of art, that aside from their entertainment value, they work to teach, to inform and to critique. Movies however, are different. I’ve always associated movies with those cheap, carnival attractions. They have no purpose other than to entertain, to draw eyes and dollars, to amuse and distract worried hearts and minds. Movies, are mere amusements we indulge in, in the effort to escape our bland everyday lives. To me, the Fault in our Stars wasn’t a movie, it was a film. I honestly left the film thinking, feeling a emotional weight about well just feeling, and living and being here, alive. I felt like I had when I’d just put down the book. I think that was the most successful aspects of the movie, not because it made me cry (I’m not much of a crier but it’s been known to happen before *I’m looking at you Pan’s Labyrinth!*) but because, like the book, it got me to think.

It had something to say and as I overheard the conversations between movie goers leaving the cinema, and between my family, it got people to think about their lives, and their loved ones; it got people to talk. And not just talk, but have meaningful conversations about things we often overlook or ignore in our lives and that’s why I loved the movie. I mean, for those just looking for a movie with romance in it, sure, it’s there and wonderfully so–Shailene and Ansel where adorable–but there is also so much more to it. It’s not just a romance movie, it’s a film with romance in it that talks about love and life and death and family. I think that’s why the book and the film seem to resonate with so many people.

“Not all questions have answers to them”

That’s what my fifteen year old brother said when describing the lesson  his favorite person in the film, drunken, malicious author Van Houten, taught him. The whole journey Augustus and Hazel take is to find out the answer to their questions: What happens after the book is over, what happens to the people that Anna loved and cared about. Most importantly, what happened to the hamster! Of course the most obvious answer, the one the film wishes to convey, is that they went on living. Through pain, through strife and joy, through it all life goes on. People have to suffer through pain, live with it, grow from it and so on. Everyday we do this, and when we  can’t, well then the world goes on without us. It’s a sad truth, but one that we all have to come to terms with. Yet what my brother got from Van Houten’s character, was that though Gus and Hazel go through all these lengths to find out the ending of the book, they never really got an answer. But really when you think about it, it wasn’t the answer that was compelling, it was Hazel and Gus’s journey to find their answers that made the film compelling. What’s more, even if there aren’t any answers it’s important to search for them, to have these questions. That’s why I feel that the Fault in our Stars is such a wonderful book adaptation and  film on its own right. Not simply because all the “characters” say what they’re supposed to say, act like how they should or look like they ought to, but because it captures the essence of what the book was trying to convey, what it was trying to do.

So…

Yeah, I loved the movie, I thought that the performances by the main cast, specifically Shanilee, Ansel, Laura Dern and I would say Nat Wolf even, brought these people–because John Green doesn’t write characters, he writes people– I loved  to life, because the screenplay was wonderful and the direction, though not stand out, was honest in its portrayal of their hardships. What I loved most about the film The Fault in Our Stars, is that it brought people to the conversation the fans of the book were introduced to, and the people suffering through illness were already having.

If you’ve seen the movie and read the book what did you take away–from either or from both–from it. Is it a good adaptation, a good film or or is it just another romance movie? I’ve always felt that Holes (the movie), was the best book to film adaptation I’ve ever seen. I think the Fault in Our Stars makes it on that short list. In a future post, I would say next but I’m not sure I when I’ll tackle it, I’d like to look at other YA adaptations and examine why I felt some of them, like TIFOS and Holes, were successful and some of them weren’t. What YA movies did you think were good adaptations?

 

 

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