This book to film comparison contains spoilers.
If you’ve read my review of The Fault in Our Stars, you already know I wasn’t a fan of the book. Despite many people telling me that it was beautiful and well-written and amazing, it just didn’t do it for me. Fortunately, I liked the movie a lot better.
Two teens with different cancer conditions fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group.
I watched The Fault in Our Stars on the plane on the way over to America, which meant it was censored for general viewing. But I’m fairly sure the only things censored were the curse words so I don’t think I missed out on any of the content.
I had a fair few bugbears with certain aspects of the book but, strangely enough, almost every single one of those things didn’t make it to the movie, including Augustus’s weird comment about Hazel’s dress. Augustus’s cigarette/death metaphor did make it to the movie, because I guess it’s kind of iconic. But, as I expected, it looks as stupid as it sounds in the book. I still get secondhand embarrassment from that metaphor. The Anne Frank House scene is still the same and I still strongly dislike it . It’s so cheesy I almost fast-forwarded through it entirely.
The movie made me tear up more than the book, but I never resorted to a full cry-fest. Strangely, the ‘privilege to love someone so special’ scene didn’t get me. I was more moved by the discussion about what Hazel’s parents would do after her death. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell are perfectly cast as Hazel’s parents and they really bring out the depth and emotion in their characters.
Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Peter van Houten is much more tame than I expected. He didn’t come across as a drunk so much as a regular arsehole and I think that may have taken away some of the defining elements of his character. In the book, he is loathsome and then almost pitiable. In the movie, he remains loathsome and just annoying.
Hazel and Augustus
Shailene Woodley brings a real spark to Hazel. Every emotion, action, and reaction is made believable in her hands. While she is undoubtedly in love with Augustus, Woodley never let Hazel stumble into a world of obsession and that is what made the love between her and Augustus more natural and real on screen.
As much as Hazel (and a lot of other girls) obsess over Augustus, I am not this guy’s biggest fan. The character doesn’t appeal to me at all. Ansel Elgort is also not what comes to mind when I think back on all the times Hazel gushes over his appearance in the book but the movie gushing is kept to a minimum. On the bright side, Elgort brought Augustus’s levels of dickheadedness to an all-time low and, as a result, I don’t hate Movie Augustus with the same passion as Book Augustus.
In the book, Augustus doesn’t tell Hazel about his cancer until after (a) they’ve had sex and (b) Hazel’s mother basically makes sure that he tells the truth. In the movie, while the admission does come after they’ve had sex, Augustus tells Hazel of his own volition. And Hazel’s comment about ‘I’d have done the same to you’ is nowhere to be seen, possibly because screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber knew that was bullshit.
I don’t know if it was hearing the dialogue out loud or just because Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort were good but there seemed to be far less pretentious lines in the script.
Overall, The Fault in Our Stars movie is a very faithful adaptation and I’m sure that a lot of fans will be delighted. I probably wouldn’t even mind watching this movie again because, while I’m still not in love with the characters, the movie made them a lot more human and identifiable than the book.