“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.” William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”.
John Green’s novel, “The Fault in Our Stars”, takes issue with Caesar’s prescient statement; one’s destiny can be blighted, crippled, uncontrolled by one’s actions, desires, gifts; fate can curse or bless at whim; our stars, be they crossed or like supernovas, dazzling for only a moment, may be doomed prematurely into “oblivion”. Herein, lies the story of “Hazel Grace Lancaster” and “Augustus Waters”.
Green trespasses brilliantly into the minds of teenagers plagued with cancer; robbed of adolescence’s filter: the luxury of undoing mistakes, youth’s immunity from fear, freedom of tasting the sugar of success, or bile of defeat. Life, stalked, preordained by the shroud of disease.
Shailene Woodley’s profoundly poetic performance as “Hazel” is the stuff of greatness; the camera covets her face, every nuance, laugh, tear enhances her inimitable talent and ethereal beauty; she is a cynic, a fatalist, deprived of ever viewing the landscape through a rosy lens; worn as jewelry and a Prada purse, her accessories are a nasal cannula and oxygen bag; she narrates the story with wisdom and intelligence; at her parents urging ( Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) she joins a support group and meets Augustus Waters; Ansel Elgort is luminous as a dashing, debonair “Lothario”; truly love at first collision, he is fearless in confronting, conquering, quelling Hazel’s daunting efforts to keep him at bay; he is happiness, light, bravado.
At a champagne-infused dinner in Amsterdam (on a quest to meet a writer who understands the void, bleakness of their existence; pit-bull portrait by Willem Dafoe) he states “I’m in love with you Hazel Grace”, it emanates from “sole to crown” and all matter in between; who could resist a declaration of love so unrestricted, fathomless, futureless? No one.
Hazel and Augustus, seventeen and eighteen- years -old in “The Fault in Our Stars” teach us everything we ever have to know about living, loving and dying.