Earlier in the week I wrote the first of two planned blog posts about my thoughts on the movie The Fault in Our Stars. Based on the book by John Green, the film tells the story of two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus (Gus) Waters who meet cute and fall in love. The notable angle to this story is that both teens have cancer. Hazel is currently in a holding-pattern with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, while Gus is in remission from a cancer that cost him part of one leg.
My first post about the movie dealt with how it made me think about life and death in general. The second post, the one you're reading right here and now, is to mainly provide some thoughts I had about the relationship between Gus and Hazel. It was a wonderful affair, to be sure, but not without some questionable elements. Yes, this is Hollywood, but one still expects a certain level of realism.
The manner in which Hazel and Gus meet cute is a tad awkward. Arriving at a support group for teens with cancer, or who are in remission from cancer, Hazel is basically stalked by Gus. He stares at her. Like, literally stares at her while they sit in the meeting. She kind of smiles back at one point, making it okay, and then he approaches her outside afterwards, and a situation of star-crossed lovers ensues. At one point, just a few moments into their conversation, Gus blurts out, "You're beautiful," to a stunned, but flattered Hazel.
I understand that a movie only has a couple of hours to tell a story, and so emotions and events are often compressed, but do relationships really begin like this? I'd seriously question anyone who just strides up to someone else and starts calling them "beautiful" right off the bat. And, what if Gus had been an average, dumpy, acne-faced teen (as so many teens are)? Would his penetrating stare have been as welcome then?
Creep factor aside, I did quite enjoy the romance that blossomed between the two lead characters. Despite the aforementioned questions I have, there's no denying that the actors playing Hazel and Gus are pleasing to look at. I rather enjoyed Gus' way of calling her "Hazel Grace." That's one of those relationship affectations that can be related to in real life among couples. Shailene Woodley (as Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (as Gus) are convincing as two people deeply in love with another.
The love story at the heart of The Fault in Our Stars worked for me. No, it isn't the most realistic portrayal of a relationship ever presented, but then very few Hollywood movies have managed to achieve that task with any great aplomb. Indeed, Hazel and Gus experience a rather idealized sort of romance, where love is declared quickly and openly, often, and with only a small amount of push back. Realistic? Perhaps not. But then is that really why we go to the movies?