"The Fault in Our Stars" (2014) | Movie vs. Book Review

Release date: June 6, 2014
Runtime: 2 hr. 5 min. 
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I'm not going to beat around the bush: this was one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I've ever seen. With the overwhelming popularity of John Green's book, there was a lot of pressure on the filmmakers to get it right and I have to say they did not disappoint. The spot-on casting, the chemistry, the pacing, the emotions—it was all there. Let's be honest, if you didn't like this you probably don't have a heart. You must be a robot. Please, let me know if you're a robot—I'd love to meet you. 

If you're not familiar with the story, it's about a 16 year-old girl named Hazel who has cancer and is forced by her family to go to a support group because her mother believes she (Hazel) is depressed. There she meets a boy named Augustus and from that point on we follow the evolution of their relationship. It's not just a love story, or a sad story about sick kids, or a story about fighting—it's a story about all of that and more, but especially about living your life no matter what the circumstances are (you can also check out my book review here). Coincidentally, what I loved most about the book is how inspiring the story was and I think that came through even more in the movie. It constantly revolves about living your life fully and now, versus wasting your time waiting for some vague grand adventure in the future. It's a simple, but important message that so many of us need to understand. 

Though the movie stayed VERY true to the book, there were some changes and sacrifices that had to be made. So before I get into spoiler land to talk about these changes, let me say this: I thought The Fault in Our Stars was the kind of movie that should be enjoyed at home. Now, I'm not saying this is not fit for the big screen or that it's not worth watching right away—what I mean is that the story is intimate and personal, which to me isn't something I like to experience while being surrounded by sobbing teenagers. And don't even get me started on people quoting the book every minute BEFORE the characters actually say the words. So there, my 2 cents are that while the movie is great I would suggest at least waiting a few weeks so you're not watching it in a crowded theatre. 

Now onto the actual differences. This is not a full list—just the ones that stood out to me the most. MAJOR SPOILERS for those who haven't seen the film and/or read the book. You've been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

  1. Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac are the only young people properly introduced in the movie. In the book Hazel has a friend Kaitlyn, who is mostly ridiculous, but also hilarious. I'm assuming she was not in the movie because she didn't really advance the plot in any significant way. On that note, Augustus's ex-girlfriend is never mentioned either despite the drama that revolved around her in the book. Neither of these changes really bothered me, though they were big enough to notice
  2. Gus's sickness is downplayed. OK, "downplayed" may not be the best word here—he still dies from cancer, which is terrible. However, in the book this takes longer, with more details and those parts are generally darker and more terrifying than they were in the movie. The mental and psychological breakdown played a huge role, but it was much milder in the movie. Now, on one hand I appreciate that they didn't wallow in misery here, but at the same time I think a little more needed to be done.
  3. Hazel doesn't have a hard time finding the final letter. For me this change made the ending feel a little rushed, and while I understand that the movie was already over 2 hours long, I thought her struggle to find that letter from Gus was important.
  4. As a general note, I missed the intelligence of the book: in the original these teenagers have such profound and important conversations on pretty much every page. Their thoughts and language are so beyond their years and every interaction is a gem. This was one of my favorite things about the book and I was sad to see that only a small part of it made it into the film. Not to say that they don't come off smart in the movie—they certainly do and there are scenes when they book language and complexity shines through, but it's not nearly as striking as it could have been.

Are you a fan of the book? Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think?