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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 17, 2014

'The Fault In Our Stars' Movie Review - Well Acted Tearjerker

SCHMALTZY films with heroines dying of cancer have raked in money before, like “Love Story” (1970, famous for the line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”), “Here on Earth” (2000, with Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski) and “Walk to Remember” (2002, based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel, with Mandy Moore). Now, make way for this generation’s version of these cloying flicks, “The Fault in Our Stars”, but this time, both the hero and the heroine are afflicted with the big C, not just the female.

Based on the popular novel of John Greene meant for young adults, especially females who love sobbing in the movies, the story is told by Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley of “Divergent”), a 16-year-old girl who has Stage 4 thyroid cancer that has metastasized in her lungs, forcing her to carry an oxygen tank with her at all times. She is smart, pretty and lonely, so her mom (Laura Dern), encourages her to join a church support group that is led by a zany cancer survivor with a guitar. It’s there where she meets Augustus "Gus" Waters (Ansel Elgort, Shailene’s brother in “Divergent”), also a cancer survivor who has already lost one leg but remains to be an optimist who always puts a cigarette in his mouth but never lights it.

Gus is a charmer and relentlessly tries to win Hazel who, at first, tries to resist him. But he is a dreamboat so she eventually succumbs to his charms, especially when he does everything to fulfill her dream of meeting her favorite author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), who wrote her favorite book, “An Imperial Affliction”, that has no ending.

Everyone in the movie is lovable, except for Peter. Hazel and Gus go all the way to Amsterdam just to meet him but he proves to be an asshole. But Peter turns out to be a narrative ploy who contributes the greatest plot development of the story: the love scene. And the scene where he reappears in the end will also contribute prodigiously to the festival of tears that dominates this movie.

So be properly warned, if you don’t go for movies that manipulate you to cry, skip this one. But if you’re the type who wallows in this kind of sentimentality, by all means, don’t miss it and be prepared to weep because the two lead stars both perform superbly in tugging at your hearts, especially Shailene who gives a portrayal that is at once witty and self-deprecating, but with much touching emotional depth. Given better roles, she’ll be a rival to J. Law.

There are also cute hilarious moments, like when their blind friend throws eggs at the car of the girl who dumps him because he lost his eyesight due to cancer. And there are the quotable quotes you’re sure to remember: “I fell in love with him the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” “The universe wants to be noticed.” “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” “Okay? Okay.”