Starring Shailene Woodley, Fault centers around 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, a child who's lived with cancer for most of her life. She's a survivor, but the by-product has lessened her ability to breathe, forcing her to don an oxygen tank 24/7. It's at a cancer support group that she meets the 18-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a former basketball star whose prosthetic leg doesn't dull his sense of humor or from trying to woo Hazel. Soon, the two become inseparable, with Hazel sharing a favorite book by the author Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) and wishing he would answer her questions about the book's odd ending. The two decide to fly to Amsterdam to meet him, but ultimately fall in love instead. As cancer returns to claim one life, the other must find a way to both live without their soulmate and survive the spectre of death.
Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber walk a very fine line in adapting John Green's best-selling novel into a movie, many times tripping over sentimentality in the process. Their efforts to find a balance between a telling a human story of survival and a relationship cut short are constantly at odds, particularly as the film nears its conclusion. The result is something that feels more like an afternoon special than a poignant and powerful message about chasing your dreams, or coming to terms with death, or blah blah blah. Don't get us wrong: no parent should have to bury their children, but Fault doesn't handle the bigger picture of death all that well. While the writing team tells the first part of this film well enough - one that sees our lovers come together - they totally miss a far more powerful one, namely in how one must now live without the other.
Woodley is definitely being groomed for a Jennifer Lawrence-type career, starring in big-budget flicks like Divergent while seeking smaller roles that could eventually nab Oscar glory. Fault is not that film - it sugar-coats a devastating disease with too many tears and promises left unfulfilled.
The Fault in Our Stars is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language and has a runtime of 125 minutes.
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