Director: Josh Boone
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 126 min
Hazel does not particularly enjoy support group. It consists of sitting in a church with a bunch of other teenagers with cancer of various kinds at various stages, all in the process of dying. It is really just one of those things she does to make her parents happy, since her greatest fear is the knowledge that someday soon, she will die and leave them alone and in grief. But it is at support group that Hazel first meets Augustus Waters, an attractive and witty guy with an affinity for metaphorical cigarettes. Their friendship forms quickly after Gus reads Hazel’s favorite book–a philosophical novel by a reclusive author. Peter Van Houten’s novel has had a profound influence on Hazel and her worldview, but there is one problem. It ends mid-sentence with the main character’s death. Not a very satisfying conclusion. As Hazel tries to balance her feelings for Augustus with her reluctance to begin a relationship that must inevitably soon end with her death, Augustus tries to track down Van Houten to find out how the novel ends.
This was everything a film adaptation should be. It was true to the book and true to the characters. The dialogue was taken directly from the book. The writers decided to go with voice over and committed to that decision consistently; in this film it was a very effective technique. Cuts to the content and the text were judicious. Flashbacks were incorporated smoothly and artistically. And the story arc of the film tied the introduction and conclusion together beautifully. Some of the complexity of the book was lost, such as Gus’s ex-girlfriend and a number of Isaac scenes, including his second funeral speech which happens to contain my favorite line. But some losses were inevitable and the writers were very conscientious about preserving the major themes from the book, the contemplation of infinity, the beautiful scene in the Anne Frank house, etc. I was very impressed, and I highly recommend it.