The Fault in Our Stars

Director: Josh Boone
Year Released: 2014
Rating: 2.0

Teenagers Dying: Box Office Gold! Cancer patient Hazel (Shailene Woodley) meets sneakily sickly Gus (Ansel Elgort) at a support group meeting - she's originally hesitant to go all the way with him, but eventually Love Takes Over and they're in Amsterdam, visiting her favorite author, a drunken crank (Willem Dafoe), seeing Anne Frank's House (actually a replica because some things in this world must remain sacred) and eventually (finally!) taking each other's virginity. The concept is inherently hokey - Teens! Dying! - and even the inclusion of Dafoe's boozing pessimist does little to add much counterbalance: writer John Green's background as a student chaplain and his degree in Religious Studies tells you everything you need to know about his agenda (don't get me wrong, I'm not an atheist, but when it came to questions of faith and mortality this isn't even in the same galaxy as, say, Ingmar Bergman). Woodley comes across as the weaker of the two, but she ends up the survivor, still struggling for every breath: it's not a great performance, but her sarcasm and fight make her a capable heroine.