The Fault in Our Stars

Pain is at the heart of a love story about two strikingly articulate teens living in "the Republic of Cancervania." They cope with it daily and wryly acknowledge its torment. The pain depicted is not solely physical, though that's a significant component. Emotional agony proves to be the toughest of all.

Stars is an unabashed tearjerker, though it's also about celebrating life. The movie is well-written, well-acted, acerbic, funny and wisely observed. Fans of the book will be glad to hear it is faithful to John Green's tale.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a bright and irreverent 16-year-old. Diagnosed with cancer at 13, she has to breathe from a tube connected to an oxygen tank she must carry everywhere. But she will not allow illness to define her. At the behest of her loving mom, Hazel reluctantly attends a support group for cancer survivors. Still, Hazel's biggest passion is losing herself in An Imperial Affliction, a novel by a mysterious Amsterdam-based author.

One afternoon, a new boy stops by the support group. Augustus "Gus" Waters is a strapping 17-year-old who has lost part of a leg to cancer. He and Hazel share an instant connection, and the whip-smart pair trade barbs, strike up a friendship, then fall in love.

One of the movie's biggest assets is its spot-on casting. Woodley comes across as a fusion of soulful, wickedly funny and vulnerable. Young girls will swoon over Gus' appealing blend of wholesome and rakish. Older audiences will appreciate the naturalistic dialogue.

Hazel and Gus must endure far more suffering than anyone their age should. That these immensely likable young people should be stricken with terminal illness is supremely unfair, making their love story all the more poignant.

When things go south, they remind each other: "The world is not a wish-granting factory." The Fault in Our Stars does, however, grant the audience's wish for a literate, exuberant and wise teen romance.
- Claudia Puig, USA Today


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