Review: The Fault In Our Stars

It is easy to dismiss The Fault In Our Stars (TFIOS) as a mere tearjerker, given the adolescent-driven, sentimental hype surrounding it. But if you look beyond the waterworks, you would realize that TFIOS approached a few thought-provoking themes and questions.

Girl and guy meet, get to know each other and realize they can’t be without each other…and then life throws a few curveballs at them that threaten to derail one of teenage fiction’s most celebrated romances. It’s one sick love story.


Our female protagonist is Hazel Grace Lancaster, played by Shailene Woodley of Divergent fame. The opening scene of her legs dangling off the bed, with her ubiquitous oxygen tank next to her, tells us that Hazel is not your average Juliet. However, the sixteen-year-old handles her problems with an astounding maturity that is far beyond her years.

“Depression is not a side effect of cancer – it’s a side effect of dying,” Hazel introduces the people in her life, narrating with wit and self-deprecation.

The meeting of our romantic leads begins on clumsy footing (literally). From his first onscreen appearance, Augustus Waters (played by the winsome Ansel Elgort) comes across as eloquent, straightforward and purposeful. Despite losing his right calf to cancer, and the ability to play basketball, he works out, reads and plays video games with his friend Isaac.

Hazel gradually lets her guard down for Augustus, who is revealed to be quite the new-age gentleman. He pulls Hazel’s chair for her at a romantic dinner in Amsterdam, and accords her feelings and opinions with the utmost respect.

However, this doesn’t mean he completely believes in female privilege. Augustus does not once offer to carry Hazel’s oxygen tank as he isn’t willing to make her feel weak or incapable of handling her problems. Augustus constantly empowers Hazel with his positive attitude and pragmatism.

The chink in Augustus’ shiny armor is when he struggles with his own incapability and finds he has to rely on Hazel in the end.

The other characters in the film are integral to the film as well. Isaac (Nat Wolff of Nat and Alex Wolff) is one of Augustus’s friends from the cancer support group suffering from eye cancer. His relationship draws comparisons to Hazel and Augustus’s and shows how powerful their love really is, despite the obstacles.


Augustus allows an angry Isaac to “go to town” with his basketball trophies, and urges him to egg a car. This speaks volumes about their friendship and how Augustus allowed Isaac to feel his pain, instead of bottling it up.

Mrs Lancaster (played by Laura Dern) plays along with her daughter’s blunt approach to life, instead of contesting it. She finishes her daughter’s sentences although the latter gives her a stink-eye. Those scenes were probably intended to be funny, but there is underlying sadness in how Hazel’s mother fills in the emotional voids for her guarded daughter.

In a particular scene where Hazel was on the brink of death, Mrs Lancaster cried to her husband, saying she wouldn’t be a mother anymore. This prompts us to think if she said that because she would not have anyone to call her “mum” if Hazel passed on. What are the motives behind motherhood? An obligation? A badge of honor? Or a genuine desire to bring a child into the world and unconditionally love him/her?


The film makes no bones about how “bookish” it appears to be – Hazel and Augustus first bond over ‘An Imperial Affliction’, dissecting it over text messages. They even trade each other’s favorite novels – an early onset of them wanting to share their lives with each other. Ah, young love.

TFIOS was adapted from John Green’s bestselling classic of the same name, which debuted at #1 on The New York Times’ Best Seller List in January 2012. The author of ‘Looking for Alaska’, ‘Paper Towns’ and ‘An Abundance of Katherines’, chose the cast, who played their parts to perfection.

TFIOS was more than capable of delivering sucker punches to our guts (and reducing the entire theatre to tears and sobs), but it also proved to be a thought-provoking watch for those who look beyond the rose-tinted romanticism of today’s 21st-century teenage love stories. A Kleenex, anyone?

Rating: 3.5/5

Release Date: 12 June 2014

Runtime: 125 minutes

Language: English

Censorship Rating: PG13

Genre: Romance

Director: Josh Boone

Adapted from the novel by John Green

Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Sam Trammell, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe

Photos courtesy of The Fault in Our Stars Official Facebook Page