After having watched the trailer on IMDB almost a month ago, I was eager to watch this film for two reasons. One, I am a sucker for coming-of-age teen drama films a la “Juno.” Two, I couldn’t wait to see how the humour approach to dealing with a fatal illness would be tackled, especially since I have a child survivor in the family. With so many powerful films dealing with cancer, that mostly leave the audience in a melancholic mood, this seemed to be an interesting concept. And I really did want it to work.
And it did. Based on the book of the same name, the movie is really effective. From true to life experiences that involve both, suffering and strength with a dash of humour, the story was relatable. The two lead characters are highly intelligent, as the writing intended to subtly suggest, what with quoting Aristotle’s “Poetics” and other such stuff. Shailene Woodley, is great as Hazel Grace, the main character and also the narrator of the film. She’s smart, introspective, grounded and seems to be well aware of her inevitable fate. Ansel Elgort, as Augustus Waters AKA the love interest, is a survivor himself and is positive, really funny and completely supportive, not to mention, a great friend to his only other friend too, who might I add, is also suffering from a form of eye cancer. There aren’t over-the-top emotional scenes, well not until the climax, and the film beckons quite a bit of laughter without being offensive.
What’s really great about the film is the chemistry between the two main characters and realistic relationships between them and the others in their lives. Willem Dafoe, as usual, delivers a stellar performance as the eccentric, negative and rude author, Van Houten, whom she initially admires for his novel dealing with a girl afflicted with Leukemia.
Technically, the film is flawless, with great outdoor shots, especially the shots with the backdrop of the Amstel River in the Amsterdam scenes. The film is well-paced and the only tiny little let down was that I found the end a bit slower that in keeping with the rest of the film.
The film is a great watch, and judging from the responses from the rest of the audience in the cinema, is sure to be a feel-good-tear-jerker, if that even makes sense.
(Review by Sanjana Sabharwal)