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Fault in Our Stars, The


Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Sam Trammell, Lotte Verbeek

Director: Josh Boone

This epic teen-aimed weepie is floods of tears ahead of even the legendary Love Story in that tragedy has engulfed its participants right from the start. Sixteen-year-old Hazel (Woodley) has thyroid cancer and, while her parents (Dern, Trammell) try to keep as cheerful as possible under the shadow of her inevitable death, they insist on her joining a support group for fellow-sufferers.

Although Hazel, whose only permanent companion is an oxygen tank, finds this depressing and cringe-making, she does meet a handsome, funny 18-year-old, Gus (Elgort), whose cancer has already cost him part of his right leg, a sacrifice he hopes will help him beat the disease.

Naturally, the photogenic pair become friends and fall in love, and Gus, whose parents, unlike Hazel's, are well-off, manages to arrange a trip to Amsterdam to meet the author (Dafoe) of Hazel's favourite book, her mother accompanying them, and the wife (Verbeek) of the curmudgeonly Dafoe arranging a romantic dinner at a posh restaurant.

The writer and director try hard to make this as non-glutinous as possible, but don't always succeed. And the dialogue is often no help. 'One day,' snaps Woodley, 'I'm going to explode and I guess it's my responsibility to minimise the casualties." No this is something a writer might make up, but no 16-year-old would actually say. And I'm not sure I bought Woodley dragging her oxygen up five flights to the top of the Anne Frank House.

Still, performances are bright; although Woodley, even at 22, looks too old for her role, it does represent her best film work to date. Dern is also very good and the film, based on John Green's best-seller, will draw tears by the bucketload from teenage girls everywhere.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 14 Jun 2014