Thoughts On: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Long time ago when I actually contributed to this blog, I would write reviews and the whole, “here’s what worked or didn’t work, short synopsis, and the nice star rating at the end” to sum up my feelings about the film in general for any lazy reader who just wants to know the rating and not the why.  But instead, I’m stripping most of that, including the star rating, and just focusing on things that worked/didn’t work, and the overall impressions that I received and felt experiencing a particular film.  No stars, no proclaimed loved or hatred (as well as I can at least), and just talk about the film.

Last night I caught an 11:00 p.m. screening of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, the massively popular young adult novel about two teenagers dealing with the horrible affects of cancer and how they magically fall in love, though there is no magic in the idea of losing some in an instant to a relentless disease.  As I witnessed this film in a packed theater full of high school and college girls crying their eyes dry from the half-way mark, I couldn’t help but join in on the tear fest, though I was a little better at controlling my sobbing through a well-planned strategy of bringing a hoodie and gently covering my face whenever I began to choke up, and I’ll tell you, it happened numerous times.

The last time a film made me cry like this was probably MARLEY & ME, and though they are pretty different movies, they strike an inner chord where my fears and weaknesses are brought out onto a serving platter, letting the respective film bring out the worst in me.  It’s obvious why MARLEY & ME affects me the way it does: I have two dogs, now three (MOLLY!).  My love for animals is evident, and though my hypocrisy in still being a meat-eater exists(I’m trying to change…), there’s nothing better than an animal by your side, providing you with all the love and company any human would need.  To me, it’s one of God’s greatest gifts, and unfortunately, we as humans have found many creative ways to destroy everything awesome in our lives, including these precious and beautiful creatures that WE SHARE this earth with.

Anyways, anyone that’s read the book or watched the film now (FAULTS), knows that at the center of the film is not cancer, but a love story.  A relationship about two young and innocent people trying to do normal things like fall in love, but have countless hurdles to jump over because of a situation they never asked for or deserved.  It’s the tragedy of being human.  We are given things in life that we do not control.  Our parents, our homes, what part of the world we come from, our culture, our health (for the most part), the list goes on and on.  But love is something that we all (or should) experience, and these two brave souls, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, are doing everything they can to fight their own inevitability and do what they want most.

Except love isn’t necessarily what they truly desire.  That’s the difference between THIS story and every other love story in the YA genre.  Love is not what’s desired here.  For Hazel, it’s the need of knowing that her loved ones will be okay after she’s gone.  Her biggest fear is not death, but what death will do to her parents, and now to Augustus.  For Augustus, it’s the fear of oblivion, or like many people but especially men, the fear of being forgotten and living a meaningless life.

This is where the film really hits close because Augustus is someone I can really relate to.  His fears are exactly the same fears I have in regards to how afraid we are of dying before we get to do everything we want to do, but more importantly (maybe even selfishly), to be remembered by many people for living a life of grandness and epic proportions.  If there’s anything out there that scares me the most, it’s the idea of death, the idea of my existence being gone and forgotten with nothing substantial to be remembered by.  I’m 100% sure women also have this fear, but it seems to me that men suffer more with this unfortunate trait, mainly because we are creatures of hidden insecurities, grand ambitions, and the need for glory and prominence.  These weaknesses can fulfilled by a significant other, children, a job or a career of love and passion, but these can also be temporary, as the soul is a confusing puzzle that constantly changes, having no permanent pieces that will forever fit in its original place.

I think as humans, it’s easy for us to ignore how vulnerable we really are.  Regardless of what you believe religiously or spiritually, this world is so vast and has no pity on our lives.  We are infinitely tiny to this universe, and our lives, though it may feel great and amazing, in reality is nothing but a small speck.  And regardless of what we do or accomplish on our time here, we are nothing but a black dot, which makes us no different than anybody else.

This mindset shares similarly to Hazel’s, stating to Augustus’ statement about oblivion that everyone lives and dies, and that regardless of what we think or believe, we all have the same endings.  Not trying to be so dark and gloomy, I think, though much of the things stated above are true, that’s not the attitude we should live with, and I believe that’s the film’s overarching message and theme throughout the film.  We may not have cancer or know someone who’s died at a young age, but at the end of our lives, no matter how young or old, we will all experience some sort of pain and some kind of tragedy.  That’s common denominator in all our lives, regardless of how distant you put those pains away or ignore them.  That’s what makes us our lives so unfortunate, but yet, incredibly beautiful.

FAULTS continues with this believable and effective relationship between Augustus and Hazel, played by the talented Shailene Woodley and the extremely persuasive Ansel Egort (both deserving some recognition for their performances), and what’s happening now as the film progresses is that we find beauty in their lives.  We don’t pity Hazel with her oxygen tank that she helplessly drags along or Augustus’ prosthetic leg he wears.  We find their relationship alluring, holding us through their similarities and differences, their matchmaking chemistry, and their attractive smiles and eyes, looking at one another where they feel immortal.  That time will forever hold still because these moments, these unforgettable and life-changing moments, are forever.

I think though humanity lives under a clouded existence, we have this gift of memory, of being sent back into time and remembering those special moments where life was worth every single difficult second.  Life is full of despair and pain, and easily takes most of our time here.  From sickness, stress, illnesses, work, loss, death, pain, depression, fear… I mean this lost goes on and on.  But yet, our lives are filled with miraculous wonder and positivity, and those times we cherish, our goals and dreams, our friends and family, these things keep us going.  And I think that’s the beauty in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

Life continues harshly, and nothing will stop it.  It’s a moving vehicle where the road eventually does end without us knowing when.  But we have the power to choose the life we want to live just like Hazel and Augustus had chose to become friends, fall for each other and fall in love, even though they knew both were, as Hazel put, a grenade ready to explode.  And that’s the beauty in the lives we live: we can either be the driver or the passenger.

FAULTS isn’t perfect (well no film can be really).  There are a few scenes that are a little oddly placed and felt contrived, and they REALLY went after those emotional moments, feeling slightly manipulative, but at the end of the day, no film should be criticized for how it made YOU feel, but if the film did what it was trying to do.  It’s so easy for us to fall in love with movies that make you laugh really hard or cry like there’s no tomorrow because that’s what we remember, but we must realize that when doing so, we don’t really remember the movie.

Removing all those tears that I shed and sleeping on my thoughts for a night, I had this urge to write something.  I really have a hard time blogging, I don’t know why.  It makes me feel needy and self-centered at times, but plainly, it’s just hard to write quality entries time after time (granted I even write anything of worth… doubt it).  But as I woke up this morning, being thankful that I can open my eyes, seeing my two wonderful dogs laying next to me, and witnessing the sun shine through the closed shades covering the window, I realized how beautiful life is.  How beautiful a story is.  How beautiful THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS really is, both the book and the movie.  And then I knew, this was a successful film.

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