Before The Fault in Our Stars was released in theaters this past weekend, there were millions of readers worrying whether the book was adapted with as much care and heart as it deserved. The book, written by John Green, means a great deal to many people, and it’s always scary when something so close to you is taken and made big for the whole world to see.
Luckily, fans of TFiOS had very little to worry about.
While there were naturally some scenes and lines missing from the book, the bulk of the movie came straight from John Green’s pen. I could count the number of lines that weren’t from the book on one hand. At times I actually wished they strayed from Green’s writing a little further, since it sometimes felt like I was watching something I had already seen.
But Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort did a very good job of making the story seem new and bringing life to Green’s words. Through their performances, I felt like I got to know Hazel and Gus a little better. In the book, Gus’s speeches seem very arrogant and at times annoying, but in the movie Ansel is more self-deprecating as he says the lines. He has the ability to laugh at his cockiness while showing he’s serious about what he’s saying. I felt like he understood the character more than I did, which is rare for a deep reader like me!
And Shailene was able to make Hazel seem young but intelligent, scared but brave, and jaded but optimistic all at the same time. Her performance was very genuine—it seemed as though she wasn’t acting at all. While she didn’t look quite as sick as I pictured Hazel, she was very average, which was a nice change from the tall, gorgeous actresses we usually see in movies. Her performance was true and refreshing.
I even liked the slight changes that were made to plot. At the end of the movie, instead of going on a crazy scavenger hunt for a letter from Augustus, Van Houten simply gives it to Hazel in her car. I thought this was a much smarter way of doing it than Green’s way, which involved Van Houten stalking Hazel and several other crazy antics that were distracting. In the movie, everything is about Hazel and Gus.
My complaints about the movie are mostly minor. Lidewig wasn’t nearly as nice as she was in the book (although the actress who played her has the prettiest hair I’ve ever seen). I missed the line about the pedophilic swing set seeking the butts of children. All of the foreshadowing for the ending was completely taken away, making it seem very abrupt. And I disliked how they moved Hazel and Gus’s kiss to the top of the Anne Frank house, instead of downstairs in the museum area. In the book, Hazel and Gus are alone at first, and are not in the portion of the house where the Franks actually lived. In the movie, however, they are at the top of the annex, with people surrounding them. While I understand that Anne’s story inspired them to experience life at its fullest, it seemed a bit insensitive to do it there.
Overall, though, The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. It’s faithful not only to the book’s words, but to its spirit. It’s one of those rare movies that makes you laugh and cry in equal amounts. While I’d still encourage everyone to read the original text, the movie comes in a very close second.
Have you seen The Fault in Our Stars yet? What did you think of it?