Shailene Woodley is a seasoned actress at the age of 22 and in this year alone, she has gone from world saviour to heroine in a young adult “weepy” film. In The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Woodley plays a 16 year-old cancer patient who discovers love with another cancer victim, played by 20 year-old Ansel Elgort.
The two have worked together before, but as brother and sister in the film Divergent. While the two actors had a wonderful on-screen chemistry as siblings, it remained to be seen if they could carry off being young love interests. Watching the trailer to The Fault in Our Stars, however, it looks like the two were perfect pairing as the teen cancer patients who fall in love.
Woodley, who has been referred to as “the hippy who conquered Hollywood,” loved the book by Green since it’s publication in 2012. She was so enthusiastic that she wrote a 40 page letter to the novelist where she made a very long case for the book to be made into a film. Shailene says that she was not applying for the part of the book’s female protagonist Hazel Grace, but Green has gone on record to say it certainly felt like she was campaigning for the part.
Before being made into a film, the book which was aimed at the young adult market, had garnered a lot of praise. Not least of which was from Time magazine who named the book best of the year. Green’s work also stayed on The New York Times Young Adult bestseller list for 78 weeks.
Shailene Woodley, fell in love with the character and after playing world saviour in Divergent wanted to play the “heroine” in this weepy movie. It is easy to see why. The actress is not afraid to go her own way and disregard societal rules and preconceptions. She has said that she wants people to rethink what female leads can look like, stating that people never see a woman on a film poster with a “cannula in her nose.”
Thus far the film, which opened on June 2, has garnered a lot of praise. Most reviewers have felt that the two young actors have done a brilliant job. Only one felt that Elgort’s character seemed too good to be true and at least one applauded the director, Josh Boone for following the direction of the book. Another, from Vanity Fair felt that Woodley looked too good for a cancer patient as she exuded a “California sunset” glow.
At first glance from all who those who have sung the film’s praises, it seems that it is not a “run of the mill” manufactured tissue fest. The on-screen chemistry between Woodley and Elgort apparently lights up the screen and one enthusiastic reviewer has predicted that Ansel will become the next Robert Pattinson. Which means, presumably, that Shailene could be the next Kristen Stewart, which is unfair to the female star of this film.
Shailene Woodley can pull off playing the saviour of the world and be the heroine of a young adult weepy love story. The Fault in Our Stars aims to be more than the average teen targeted film and apparently it has succeeded admirably. It is hard to imagine that anyone other than Woodley could have pulled it off so well unless, of course, the actress that she is so often compared with, Jennifer Lawrence had been cast instead.
By Michael Smith