“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
– Augustus Waters
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) has cancer, and she has been nothing but terminal her whole life. Her mother, Frannie (Laura Dern), is convinced that Hazel is depressed, and her doctor agrees. Hazel is also forced to go to a support group, which she absolutely hates but goes to because it makes her parents happy. Hazel is sure that she is never going to be a regular teenager, and has sort of come to terms with that. However, one day at group, she meets the insanely gorgeous and witty Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). She thinks he is gorgeous, but that she doesn’t stand a chance. Augustus has survived his cancer, though it was at the cost of his leg. After group Augustus makes it clear to Hazel that he likes her and that he finds her beautiful, and she feels herself getting reeled in by him. Her mother, naturally, is happy that she is making friends. Visiting at Augustus’s house after group, she tells him about her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, and he vows to read it if she reads a novelisation of his favourite video game.
Hazel soon becomes sad when Augustus does not contact her, and she starts to think that it was just something to fade away, a great afternoon. Augustus finally talks to her about her book, something he enjoyed immensely. Their mutual friend Isaac (Nat Wolff) has just been broken up with by his girlfriend Monica (Emily Peachey), just before he is to go in for eye cancer and lose his eyesight completely. Hazel and Augustus bond some more. Augustus contacts Peter Van Houten (Willen Dafoe), author of An Imperial Affliction, to ask him some questions about what happened. He is not given answers, but Hazel is thrilled by the fact that Augustus contacted Van Houten. She, too, sends a mail to the address, and soon receives a reply that Van Houten cannot answer her questions via email, but should she ever find herself in Amsterdam she should pop by. Hazel desperately wants to go, though she is very ill and her mother and father, Michael (Sam Trammell), cannot afford it. Hazel lets it go, but Augustus won’t. He contacts the Genies and uses his wish for them: get them to Amsterdam to meet with Van Houten so that he can answer all their questions pertaining to the end of his book.
Hazel gets really sick before the trip, ending up in the ICU. Augustus cannot see her, and she is crushed when the doctors tell her the Amsterdam trip is most certainly off. Hazel starts to avoid Augustus, which hurts him. She does not want to cause him heartbreak, she knows that she is going to die and refuses to be responsible for his pain. Ultimately, though, she and Augustus see each other again, and he makes it abundantly clear that he does not give a damn whether she thinks she is a grenade that will hurt him or whatever, he wants to spend time with her, even if she is only willing to be friends. As a surprise, Hazel finds out that the Amsterdam trip is back on, and she is thrilled. In Amsterdam she irrevocably falls in love with Augustus, forgetting about the grenade theory, accepting that they both might hurt each other. In Amsterdam, though, things don’t go as planned because Van Houten turns out to be an absolute douchebag and a let down, Hazel and Augustus get closer than ever, and some dark secrets spill out between them, crushing both of them. Hazel has been so focused on the fact that she is sick that is never occurred to her that Augustus may get sick again, that they both may end up terminal.
Why was Van Houten so terrible? What will Hazel do now that something she has always loved has turned out to be so tainted? Is their trip to Amsterdam ruined because of the jerky author? Will Hazel and Augustus be able to make the best of the time that they have together? Now that they are back to both fighting cancer, will Augustus overcome his a second time? How long will Hazel be able to go on before finally succumbing to her disease?
This was a very good adaption of the book, so any fear I had of that being messed with has been allayed. Let me put it out there, I too, like Cara, am a stone cold bitch. Nary a tear in sight from me, and that is okay. The rest of the theatre was snivelling, but that is not what I was there for. I was there to see Hazel Grace and Augustus brought to screen, and let me tell you that I was not disappointed in the slightest. Shailene Woodley was a fantastic Hazel, and she did wonders with the material. Ansel Elgort, however, stole the whole show for me. He is the most perfect actor to have cast to play the amazing and weak-knee-inducing Augustus Waters. He had the attitude, the smile, he had it all working for him. There are other cast members that need some shine, too, such as Nat Wolff, who was just a brilliant Isaac, and Sam Trammell and Laura Dern for playing Hazel’s parents Michael and Frannie perfectly. I do wish that Isaac had been given more screen time, he was a simply hilarious character and I thought he was wonderfully cast. I was not a fan of the soundtrack (sorry, but really, really cheesy, though I guess it is exactly what it needs to be, given the type of film), but it was used only when required. I enjoyed the way the film was shot, subtly, with things being emphasised where necessary, but not shoving it down your throat. Some of the humorous scenes from the book were perfectly captured here, which was a joy. Just in case you missed it somehow, I really despise romance movies and chick flicks and all, and this may tick all those boxes, I must also say that this was a story that I fell in love with when I read the book. There was a bit that was cut out of the book when the film was made, but nothing as daunting as the major butchering of things such as Harry Potter (just saying). They did not detract from the story, though I wish that more was done to hint at Augustus and what was to come, etc. Needless to say, it is worth the watch.