One of the main reasons most romantic films are looked down upon by the critical community is that they normally function in a fantasy land where either everything is perfect or the events of the narrayive occur in a gracefully tragic way that almost never occurs in real life. The Fault in Our Stars unfortunately falls into both of these categories. While The Fault in Our Stars takes place in a world where awful things do happen to good people, too much of the plot is sugarcoated, making for an odd film that never knows what it wants to be.
The Fault in Our Stars follows terminally ill teenager Hazel (Shailene Woodley) as her mother encourages her to go to a support group. While attending the support group she meets Augustus (Ansel Elgort), a cancer survivor who lost a leg in his fight. Together they begin a relationship despite the knowledge that Hazel can die at any moment or Augustus could relapse at any time.
This film is especially disappointing when you consider that it was adapted to the screen by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. This writing duo is behind two of the best romantic films in recent memory with (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now. Both films perfectly mix quirkiness with a realistic portrayal of young love. Yet oddly both of those traits are missing in The Fault in Our Stars. Instead of quirkiness there is just clichéd filled dialogue and moments that are too laughable to be considered cute. Instead of reality we get a film that goes so fast from all too perfect romance to alcohol and disease stricken despair. There is just way too much bluntness in the direction (Josh Boone) and writing of this film.
You have to at least admire that the cast at least tries to do something with the material. Shailene Woodley is charming even if she is given much less to work with than her previous collaboration with Neustadter and Weber in The Spectacular Now, and Ansel Elgort displays enough charisma to make you believe that this is an actor to look out for in the future even if all that charisma is misplaced within the film. Willem Dafoe even shows up and somehow finds a way to make the alcoholic reclusive writer character trope interesting.
Most of the great romantic films in the last decade have used some sort of innovation to make the film interesting. The Fault in Our Stars has none of that, and in its place are clichés that have been done better in many other places.