As you can see, I am not writing this review for fans of romantic films. Fans of the genre don’t need convincing that this movie is worth seeing. You will be front and center with tissues at the ready for this movie. Instead, I am writing this review for the guy who may be dragged to see the film with his mother or significant other. The guy who would rather be watching Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men, or even Maleficent, that’s who this review is for.
The story focuses on a young couple (duh). A 16 year old girl named Hazel (Shailene Woodley of Divergent fame) who has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, keeping her permanently attached to an oxygen tank, and 17 year old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort, also from Divergent) a now cancer-free amputee who is smarter, more suave, and more interesting than any guy you know or will ever know. He is the type of character that usually only shows up in movies, but he is flawed enough to be likeable.
As you can probably guess, the first hour of the film will make you roll your eyes as much as any romance movie. But be patient, because the payoff is actually quite worth it. It all gets interesting when the couple goes to Amsterdam to meet their favorite author (Willem Dafoe). From then on something unexpected happens. The movie goes from being another sappy love story to being an incredibly heartfelt and thought provoking commentary on the subject of life, death, and acceptance.
Yes, I know, an hour is a lot to get through if you aren’t into these kinds of movies. But, seeing as you likely didn’t choose this movie anyway, it should be some sort of silver lining that the movie has depth and meaning. The actors are pretty good, but it’s without a doubt the observations and conversations that provide us with lessons meant for everyone. After all, we’ve all lost someone and will lose someone. And, whether you have cancer or not, life can be short so we must enjoy it while it lasts and cling to those who make it worthwhile. Chick flick or not, it’s gratifying to see a film with doomed characters who understand that concept.
FINAL GRADE: B