Film Review: The Fault in our Stars

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort. Directed by Josh Boone.

How would you live if you knew that your death was imminent?

The Fault in our Stars is a look at life through the lens of two teens who have struggled with illness for the majority of their very short lives. Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley) has terminal thyroid cancer and knows that she hasn’t got much time to live, as the disease has spread to her lungs. At a support group meeting one day, she meets the confident Augustus Waters (Elgort) who had lost his leg to bone cancer. Although having very different personalities, the pair bond and become a comfort to each other as they together stare down the ‘barrel of oblivion’.

This is a teen romance with a difference. Hazel Grace isn’t the typical girl next door – she keeps an oxygen tube up her nose and drags a tank with her everywhere. Augustus keeps an unlit cigarette in his mouth to remind himself that he has power over death. Woodley (as always) is marvellous as Hazel Grace, and masters the breathlessness of her character so much that I found myself gasping for air at points.

The relationship of the pair blossoms and for the most part of the film they are almost too perfect for each other; conflict is withheld until the film’s later acts. I found the detour to Amsterdam and Hazel’s obsession with the ending of a novel distracting, however I understand that it was one thing giving her purpose in her short life. There are twists and turns and if you haven’t seen the film yet (or read the original novel by John Green) it would be worth your while avoiding spoilers.

There’s no doubt that this film is about death, but rather than dwelling on what follows our time on earth, The Fault in our Stars asks how we best live now. How do we make the most the short, finite time we have on earth?

The pair recognise that life is fleeting. This idea is also explored in the Bible, where Solomon dwells on his own life in the book of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 2:1-9, Solomon writes all of his life achievements: building houses and reservoirs, and amassing great wealth – but he concludes that everything was meaningless because he can’t take it with him when he dies.

Hazel Grace and Augustus have a similar take on life. They want to live it up now, because soon the end will arrive. There’s a scene that’s very Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where the pair and their mate decide to take out frustration by hurling eggs at somebody’s house. To them, life is fleeting, life is messed up, and life is to be lived now.

To those who trust in Jesus, sickness and suffering will happen. The Bible promises us that. But it also says that a life well-lived now is one that is lived for Jesus. He blesses us each and every day in ways we can never realise, and gives us the promise that we will be raised and live eternally with him. The meaning that Jesus gives us in this life can’t be taken away by sickness, and unlike any other meaning or purpose, lasts beyond death into life eternal.

I really enjoyed The Fault in our Stars. Why not hire this out and speak with your friends about death, and what a life well-lived now might look like. I’m giving this three-and-a-half stars.

The Fault in Our Stars is available now on all home media.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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