If you haven’t seen at least one advertisement of some sort for this movie, I’ll just assume that you live under a rock. For those of you interested in the film, wondering whether or not it’s worth the ten bucks to see it (rather than waiting for RedBox or DVD), here is my review.
Disclaimer: I’ve read the book. I read the book two years ago and loved it. The movie was great, but my feelings toward the book are much stronger, so excuse my lack of emotions in this review…
My mom and I went to see this film the night it came out (June 6); there was an early showing Thursday night, so I assumed all of the cult followers and preteen fangirls (who call themselves “nerdfighters”) would have attended that showing. Boy was I wrong. I was almost literally trampled by middle school girls who were screaming and running through the movie theater like this was some kind of acceptable behavior. The 12-year-old sitting behind me audibly sobbed through the whole thing. Needless to say, I should’ve waited a few weeks.
HOWEVER, the film itself was excellent. It was a very, very accurate depiction and representation of the book, as far as books-to-films are concerned. The casting was superb, the sets were amazing, and the script-to-screen effect was unbelievable. I honestly expected to hate the movie because I loved the book so much. I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum here, but no guarantees.
I’ll focus on the positives of the film first:
- THE FEELS. Oh my goodness. I’m not a movie-crier at all in any way, shape, or form. I generally only have the emotions of angry and impatient. But I cried. Not as much as the girl half my age sitting behind me, but I cried. I kept it together for most of the movie, but the end is a killer.
- Casting. I thought the main characters were well-chosen, but I have to say that my favorite casting choice was Willam DeFoe, who played alcoholic, miserable, expatriate author Peter Van Houten. He nailed the role so perfectly. I expected the others to be great, but he surpassed my expectations. Nat Wolff, who played the blind BFF Isaac, was my second favorite. What can I say, I like the minor characters. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Gus) had awesome chemistry, too. I loved Hazel’s parents as well, though I have no idea who played them.
- AMSTERDAM. Holy crap the Amsterdam scenes. I myself was in Amsterdam a few months ago, and I have to say the director did an excellent job portraying that city and its life. Simply fantastic.
- The changed ending. It’s so minor, but John Green (author of the book) said himself he liked their ending better, and I have to agree.
There was so much that I liked about the movie, but I don’t want to spoil too much…So on to my criticisms…
- Removal of the literary references. As an English major and future English professor, this agitated the hell out of me. I feel like those references are what elevates this book above other YA books. I know that this is made for teenagers who probably will never read or understand any of the literary references in the book, but still. If it was my book, I’d be pissed.
- Both of my favorite scenes were altered and/or deleted altogether. So in the book, there’s this part where Hazel and Gus are sitting together and he is reading to her. She is narrating the whole book. She says (my favorite line in the whole book): “I fell in love the way fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” The line is still in the movie, BUT IT’S NOT WHILE HE’S READING TO HER! Gahhh!!!!! Okay, moving on. When Gus is stuck at a gas station in the middle of the night puking on himself, Hazel recites William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheel Barrow” to comfort him. That scene? GONE. They just take him off in the ambulance, no poetic consolation.
Okay, those are my only two big criticisms. Not too shabby, right? Of course, if you’re not a literary geek like me, these changes probably wouldn’t bother you, and you might not even notice. But they bothered me.
In all seriousness, the movie is definitely worth seeing. It’s a modern tale of star-crossed lovers, but instead of feuding families, the antagonist is cancer (did I forget to mention that earlier? Whoops). For me, I think the movie and book both show that young people can and do understand what true love is. John Green is one of the most brilliant authors of this generation — I kid you not. If you like books, I suggest reading the book first. This will also better prepare you for the emotional roller coaster that, unlike Augustus Waters, doesn’t only go up (you’ll understand that reference when you see it). Okay? Okay.
**If you can’t watch a movie about kids with cancer without ugly sobbing, wait until it comes to DVD, please, for the sake of other movie-goers. Don’t be that twelve year old behind me.