The Fault in Our Stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern. Directed by Josh Boone. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.
At the beginning of The Fault in Our Stars, teenage cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) asserts that her story is not a typical movie romance or melodrama, but the movie then spends the next two hours proving her wrong. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—there’s no reason cancer patients shouldn’t have their own unabashed, old-fashioned romance—but it does make the movie feel a little disingenuous. Aside from the ever-present oxygen tube in her nose, Hazel is a beautiful and vibrant teenager, as is Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), the slightly older boy she meets in a cancer support group and ends up falling for.
As she demonstrated in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, Woodley is excellent at playing tough, smart, vulnerable teenage girls, and she gives another strong performance here. Elgort, however, comes off as smug and insincere, which makes the grand romance a little unconvincing. Director Josh Boone, working from John Green’s popular novel, turns the tearjerking up to 11 by the end, but much of it is earned, especially as Hazel faces familiar feelings from a new perspective. Fault is, in many ways, a typical romantic melodrama, but it’s delivered with some uncommon thoughtfulness and respect.