Frances Winston found this film about young cancer sufferers to be heart-wrenching, but not too slushy.
Directed by: Josh Boone – Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe
If you haven’t heard of the stratospheric best selling novel on which this film is based, chances are that you are not between the ages of 12-18. If the reaction of the people in the cinema when I saw this is anything to go by though, age is no barrier to the enjoyment of this movie.
Many of the audience members, both men and women ageing from teens to their 50s, were visibly and unashamedly bawling their eyes out, including the guy sitting beside me, who definitely did not fall into the love struck teenager category. It’s not hard to see why. Any story about young people with cancer was always going to bring a lump to even the hardest of throats. Throw in a dose of shameless sentimentality and cue a cinema full of emotional wrecks.
Told through the eyes of cancer sufferer Hazel Grace Lancaster (Woodley) this follows her fledgling romance with Augustus Waters (Elgort), a cancer survivor who lost his leg to the disease. The pair bond over Hazel’s favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, which ends suddenly mid-sentence. Determined to find out what happens, Augustus tracks down the author Peter van Houten to Amsterdam, and uses his “wish” from a charity to organise a trip for himself and Hazel.
Unfortunately, van Houten is not what they expect, and gives them no answers, and while there Hazel also learns that Augustus’ cancer has returned. Having worried that she would die and leave him, she now has to come to terms with the possibility that her first great love may not be long for this world, as he asks her to write his eulogy.
You can see why it is tear-inducing. Director Boone layers on the emotion, although surprisingly, it veers the right side of slushy for most of the movie. Both Woodley and Elgort give strong performances, and have a genuine chemistry that really brings these beloved literary characters to life. It builds nicely and is well paced, and has a fantastic soundtrack that absolutely fits the tone of the film.
This is a sweet and simple story that wears its heart on its sleeve. It wants to tug on your heartstrings and it does. While it will have the target audience totally swooning, this can be enjoyed by anyone, but do bring the tissues just in case.
In Cinemas Today!