Right from the opening credits, The Fault In Our Stars exists basically as a visual treat for those with the emotional temerity to have stuck with the source material (a novel of the same name) from start to end despite having had their hearts wrung and their eyes dried out at nearly every step of the way. Well done, the film says to those brave soldiers of the heart - your strength will hold you in good stead during this smaller journey.
Where do we begin? Okay, so this is not the sort of film you watch without at least checking out the plot - i. e. if you haven't already read the book. In all probability, you already know that a love story about two teenagers battling terminal cancer is not something you would end up heckling at in the movie hall, especially if, like most human beings, you don't want to come off as a really horrible person.
But then comes the shocker. You won't want to. Like a lot of excellent YA work in the recent times, The Fault In Our Stars is like that guy / girl you always dreamed of - funny, sensitive, poetic, and shockingly insightful.
Told from the POV of 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), TFIOS begins with a stream of Hazel's consciousness - her resignation to her thyroid cancer, her exasperation at her mom's determination to be cheerful at all costs, and her feelings of inadequacy. We see her being forced to join a cancer patients' support group, in order to placate her mother's conviction that she is depressed.
There, she meets Augustus Waters, aka Gus (Ansel Elgort), an unnervingly calm boy who makes her nervous at first, and then draws her relentlessly. Over several months and shared experiences that you need to watch, not read about, they fall in love like sleeping, as Hazel puts it, "slowly at first, and then all at once". And then, as was expected from get go, tragedy strikes, but from unexpected directions.
The Fault In Our Stars is as florid and manipulative as you would expect it to be. But, unlike other YA catnip like The Hunger Games Trilogy and the more recent Divergent series, this one is more of a give and take - a catharsis of sorts, if you will. It will manipulate you, but for your own good. The dialogues are deft, and the screenplay is rewardingly faithful to the novel.
The imagery is a shape-shifter, blending into the mood of the plot with dexterity and beauty. The music plays its part well, if not with too much flair.
What makes the film, though, is the cast. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are not only extremely talented, but also share a great chemistry with each other. The rest of the cast is picked with the same amount of care, with the main priority seemingly being, as it is at every step of the film, giving those who have read the book something to enjoy thoroughly.
Bottomline: If you like romance, you will enjoy The Fault In Our Stars. Even if you don't, you should give it a shot. It's just a great movie. But just remember to pack tissues, because you will cry, and you won't be able to hide it.