Get ready to cry

For any book to movie adaptation all a fan can ask for is a faithful rendering and a good cast. When I saw that cast chosen I knew that we were halfway there, but it still left it open to a good script and if they’d play it right. From the moment the movie started I knew it was going to be good, but not until Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) came on screen did I realize just how fantastic it was going to be. I realized they weren’t actors, they were these characters and I was drawn in.

For anyone who doesn’t know, this move is not going to be a happy fluff love story. If you haven’t read the book and plan on seeing it, stop, go to your nearest Barnes & Nobles, and buy this book. I can promise you the rendition is faithful, but the book is so worth reading. It’s hard to capture John Green’s beautiful imagery and and words in the film, no matter how excellent it may be. So read the book, then watch the movie, it’s worth it. (warning some spoilers below…)

The movie comes with a warning in the very beginning. Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) literally apologizes to audiences everywhere for what they are about to see and in her opening monologue says, “I believe we have a choice in this world about how to tell sad stories. On the one hand, you can sugarcoat it – nothing is too messed up that it can’t be fixed with a Peter Gabriel song. I like that version as much as the next girl does, but it’s just not the truth.” The movie centers around Hazel Grace, a cancer stricken 16-year-old, who doesn’t really have much in her life aside from her disease that infects her lungs making it hard to breathe. Her parents force her to go to a cancer support group run by a man who calls it “the literal heart of Jesus” in hopes of her making friends. Hazel is 100% opposed to this thought, but does it anyway because it gives her parents time away from their full-time jobs as caretakers. Little does she know this is the best decision of her life because she meets the charismatic Augustus Waters.

“Pain demands to be felt” is a line from the made up novel at the center of this film called ‘An Imperial Affliction’, but it also perfectly sums up this movie. Yes it’s a love story, but it’s not like a Nicholas Sparks book where they fall in love, then find out about the disease, and cry over not being able to do anything. No, both of these teenagers have cancer, Augustus had osteosarcoma and lost his right leg, and they understand each other. The film flagrantly defies convention. Hazel is smarter, with a wicked wit and humor, while Gus is is bursting with positivity and hilarity, but is simply in awe of her. She constantly tries to warn him not to fall in love with her, to shield him from the blow of her inevitable death. Despite her efforts, they fall in love and find solace in one another making life meaningful. They go on adventures, learn about one another, even go to Amsterdam together to meet Hazel’s favorite author Peter Van Houten (William Defoe), and though he turns out to be less than ideal they remember the trip is not for him, it’s for them and he can’t ruin what they have.

A great asset for this film was it’s spot on casting. Woodley is spectacular coming across as the perfect blend between relatable, hilarious, and vulnerable. Elgort is sheer perfection as Gus. He has the mischievous glint in his eye as well as the swagger that makes his character perfectly believable. It was to the point where I fully believed these characters of my beloved story had come to life and it was wonderful to behold. If you want an idea of how brilliant the young starlets are, take a look at this scene:

I, quite honestly, sobbed through the entirety of this film. Whether it was from sheer joy of how well the actors captured the essence of their character, foreshadowing for the tragic end, or when the climax finally hit and nothing was ‘okay’ anymore. Despite its inevitable sadness, some movies are just worth going into knowing you’re going to bawl your eyes out; this is definitely one of them. The film does Green’s novel great justice and is a fresh take on love with their dark sarcasm when it comes to life, but finding the silver lining in one another. Since the script was co-written by Green I didn’t worry too much, but the team of Scott Neustaudter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer, Spectacular Now) was absolutely brilliant. The omissions from the book were justifiable and hardly noticed. It kept the story tight by removing extraneous dialogue and unnecessary characters. They focused on what was important and delivered the tear-jerker perfectly.

This film was a dream adaptation. There were so many times that I gasped because a scene was exactly how I imagined it and just burst into tears because I too just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to a beloved character. It’s not all sad, it had plenty of hysterical moments to cut tension making me remember just how funny the novel was int he first place. Some of my favorites were with Gus’s best friend Isaac (Nat Wolff) when they throw eggs at his ex-girlfriend’s car and when he just breaks trophies while Gus and Hazel just discuss ‘An Imperial Affliction’. This movie is as stunning as it’s written counterpart and I recommend all to see, just make sure you don’t forget copious amounts of tissues. Trust me, you’ll need them.

Here’s the trailer below for more of a hint to see just how good this film is:

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