The faultlessly written teen romance novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is set to hit the big screen this summer. The newly-released trailer shows co-stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort perfectly cast in their roles as Hazel and Augustus.
As fans of the John Green book will know, Hazel is a cancer patient. Her permanent companion is her oxygen tank, and a new drug she is trialling which is giving her some extra time. Her loving and slightly over-supportive parents like her to go to group sessions with fellow sufferers. Although she hates these, she does it to placate them. She is aware that she is, as she calls it, a “grenade” and that one day she will go off and destroy their lives along with her own.
The dreaded support group is where she meets Gus. Now in remission, he has adapted to losing a leg and the loss of his dream of being a basketball player. He is kind and funny and he thinks she looks like Natalie Portman. Not accustomed to thinking of herself as beautiful in any way, Hazel is skeptical and resistant to his charm. He’s a terrible driver, he annoys her by pretending to smoke cigarettes and he has bad taste in reading matter. Despite all this, she falls for him.
“I fell in love with him,” she says “The way you fall asleep, slowly, and then all at once.” The audience is given access to Hazel’s mature and reflective take on life through her monologue. Woodley, who is now 22 and last seen in Divergent, captures the essence of being a 17-year-old terminally ill, exceptionally clever and worldly-wise high school girl. Elgort was also in Divergent, playing her brother. In this film, they explore rather different territory.
The inevitability of demise is the poignant thread of this tale, but as Gus assures Hazel, you may not have a say in getting hurt, but “you do have a say who hurts you.” The courage to love is the biggest challenge.
The Fault in Our Stars is directed by Josh Boone, and also stars Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff and Lotte Verbeek. It will be released in the U.S. on June 6. Shailene Woodley is said to have been so determined to land the role of Hazel that she wrote to both John Green and Josh Boone, expressing her passion for the novel.
The title of the book, now movie, is an adaptation of a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” It was not intended to lay the blame on fate, but rather that The Fault in Our Stars is the human condition.
In a Q&A on the author’s own website, John Green discusses his primary idea of the story, about how fear makes us “more and less human,” and the author’s responsibility to tell a “hopeful” tale. Just because Gus and Hazel have chronic illnesses, he argues, does not take away from them being “regular, nice smart people.” He wanted to show that a good life need not be a long one.
Be prepared for tears at this heart-warming and tender tale of star-crossed lovers. Watch the extended trailer of The Fault in Our Stars below for a foretaste of this most bittersweet romance.
By Kate Henderson
John Green Books