'The Fault in Our Stars': What are critics saying about the movie adaptation?

'Fault' is based on the bestselling young adult novel by John Green.

James Bridges/20th Century Fox/AP
'The Fault in Our Stars' stars Ansel Elgort (l.) and Shailene Woodley (r.).

The movie adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green’s acclaimed young adult novel that follows two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love, hits theaters today. Is the film version of “Fault” a satisfying cinematic experience? 

Many have given the movie mostly positive reviews, with Monitor critic Peter Rainer giving the movie a B, saying that he thinks “director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber don’t pile on the mush.”

Shailene Woodley gives an ardent, nuanced performance,” Rainer wrote of the actress who portrays Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “If [Hazel’s boyfriend Augustus] had been less of a fantasy, the movie might have been grittier and even sadder, but clearly that’s not the vibe the filmmakers were going for. They want credit for being hard-hitting, and they are. But they also have stars in their eyes.”

Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey was impressed by how the movie “offer[s] real issues for the young protagonists to wrestle with.”

“’Fault’ is a certifiable weepie, but it comes by most of its emotions honestly. Boone uses plausible situations to stir up feelings, without the heart-tugging calculation that brings so many tear-jerkers down,” Sharkey wrote. “The dialogue is clever without being pretentious… Elgort is pretty adorable as Gus, the actor exhibiting leading guy potential. The chemistry he and Woodley share seems very organic, some of it no doubt rooted in time spent together on "Divergent," in which he played her brother. Elgort has a very appealing way of making sure Gus' confidence stops just short of cocky. But Woodley is the one who binds the film together, heals all of its wounds. She gives Hazel the right level of strength and vulnerability, resistance and acceptance, to create a real girl living in a real world.”

Washington Post reviewer Ann Hornaday was similarly won over, calling the film “a wise, warm, funny and touching romantic drama.”

“’The Fault in Our Stars’ brims with the kind of adolescent goofiness, searching and spiky anger that marked the John Hughes and Cameron Crowe films of another era,” Hornaday wrote. “By now Woodley has proven her bona fides… The revelation here is Elgort — last seen playing Woodley’s brother in ‘Divergent’ – who brings real subtlety and ease to a character whose vulnerability can always be felt peeking through the studied bravado. (He is essentially playing a guy playing another guy — in this case, Gus playing the brave, quirky cancer-kid.) They’re an enormously appealing couple.” 

Meanwhile, New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott found the movie to be “an expertly built machine for the mass production of tears.” 

“[Shailene Woodley’s] un-self-conscious performance is the perfect mirror of her character’s pragmatic temperament,” Scott wrote. “Because she never asks for approval, we are entirely in her thrall… Though it is a tragic love story, it is also a perfect and irresistible fantasy. Hazel and Gus possess an absolute moral authority, an ability to assert the truth of their experience that few can share and many might covet. They know the meaning of their own lives, and try as it might, the movie can’t help but give cancer credit for this state of perfection. There is something disturbing about that, and also, therefore, about the source of some of the tears the movie calls forth.”

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.