Film expert Gavin Miller takes a look at the adaptation which could be this year’s romance of the summer.
Turning up to review this film at an early fan screening showed what a great Twilight-esque following this heart-warming romance has – based on the number one best-selling novel.
Usually being squeezed between two sets of late teens/twentysomethings on the back row doesn’t sound bad, but experiencing blubbering before a potentially heart-breaking scene took place was quite a bizarre experience – as the cinema-goers knew what was on the horizon, obviously being avid fans of the book.
There was literally crying all around me for the majority of the film.
That’s because this is supposedly an extremely faithful adaptation of John Green’s book about two cancer-stricken teens – played by Divergent’s breakout stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
They star as Hazel Lancaster and Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters (who meet up after Hazel is forced to attend a cancer support group), two teenagers who share the same outlook on life – with sarcastic wit and disdain for the conventional – as their love sweeps them on an emotional journey.
Hazel is continuing to battle terminal thyroid cancer – which has spread to her lungs – and sports an oxygen tank to help her breathe, while ex-basketball star Gus, is recovering from the disease (specifically osteosarcoma) after getting his leg amputated.
But their love really blossoms when, having saved his ‘wish’ as a cancer sufferer, Gus whisks Hazel – along with Hazel’s Mum Frannie (Jurassic Park’s Laura Dern) as legal guardian – to Amsterdam, to meet the author (Willem Dafoe) of her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction.
And even though this might sound too much for a romantic drama with its potentially tragic terminal illness theme, the two leads prove so amiable it really does the source material justice without ever resorting to exploitation.
Woodley proves she could be the next Jennifer Lawrence with an enigmatic, yet impressively understated performance as Hazel, while Elgort provides comedic relief and scene-stealing moments of sweetness in equal measures to make all female cinema-goers swoon. It’s like Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner all over again.
Dafoe’s turn as the selfishly drunk author that Hazel looks up to, actually hampers the flow of the movie, and its sometimes choppy editing – as characters jump in and out of the story – may prove cloying for anybody who isn’t a fan of the book.
But despite sticking closely to romantic teen conventions, the subject matter is generally dealt with in a competent fashion to provide what is undoubtedly the romance of the summer.
It’s not The Notebook, but with generally the right balance of tears and laughter this is definitely noteworthy – and a surprisingly welcomed diversion from the summer big guns.
Rating: 4/5 stars