Direction: Josh Boone
Actors: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
Based on the young adult novel of the same name by John Green, this tale of first love isn’t such a many splendoured thing.
Aimed at activating the viewer’s tear ducts, The Fault In Our Stars rarely manages to deliver any truly affecting emotion. Flirting with mawkishness from the get-go, the plot zeroes in on two terminally ill teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. It isn’t giving anything away to say that they are strongly attracted to each other. She (Woodley) is a sixteen-year-old suffering from thyroid cancer. Older to her by two years, he (Elgort) has lost part of one leg to a bone tumour. The love-struck pair shares a sardonic sense of humour. Never wallowing in self-pity, they are determined to make the best of their limited lifespan.
Director Boone (Stuck In Love) appears to be constrained by commercial considerations. Rather than fresh insights into early-life medical crisis what we get is a jargon-laden account of the fatal disease. The terrible impact of dying young is never convincingly conveyed. Fortunately, the performances redeem the maudlin material to an extent. Laura Dern is impressive as the girl’s devoted mother. Ansel Elgort more than holds his own with his more experienced co-stars.
Shailene Woodley consolidates her reputation as one of the most promising actresses of her generation.