Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 10, 2014

CALLERI: Acting lifts romantic tragedy 'The Fault In Our Stars,' and some thoughts on other films

Niagara Gazette — Screening schedules sometimes prevent a movie I’d like to write about from being highlighted the week it opens. The major studios have cut back on preview showings for the press and the public, which means some pictures aren’t shown in advance. Sometimes a film is screened the evening after my deadline; therefore, there isn’t sufficient time to write about it. This isn’t a hindrance to coverage, it’s just an inconvenience.

If I don’t see a movie before it opens, or in time for my deadline, I almost always catch it after the run begins. Most of the time I’ll see an unscreened feature on its opening Friday afternoon or the following Monday.

This gives me the opportunity to comment on releases such as “The Fault In Our Stars.” “Edge Of Tomorrow,” “Maleficent,” and “A Million Ways To Die In The West.”

The only success among the four is “The Fault In Our Stars,” which manages to stir emotions in a way few recent mainstream films have. The movie’s central characters are teenagers Gus (Ansel Elgort) and Hazel (Shailene Woodley). His cancer is in remission, but he’s lost a leg to it. She currently has cancer, and the outlook is bleak. He was a good athlete in high school; however, he understands those days are gone. Gus is confident, not cocky. Hazel is a romantic and sees her cancer as a challenge. Neither of them want pity.

Director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the writing team who thought up the wonderful “(500) Days of Summer,” have created a film in which disease and love are treated with sensible realism. The teens know cancer is brutal, but they will live each day with an appealing determination.

Gus and Hazel’s romance begins at a cancer support group meeting. Like all relationships, there’s the early dance of introduction, then thoughts about where things are heading, on to the first kiss, and finally the recognition that the shadow of the disease looming over them need not control their lives. A friend of theirs, Isaac (Nat Wolff), is another teen fighting cancer. It has blinded him in one eye and may destroy his good eye. He’s remarkably realistic about his chances for survival. Laura Dern play’s Hazel’s mother, a woman who focuses on short-term hope. She advises her daughter to take life as it happens.

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