Before I wrote this blog post, I needed to wipe the tear smudges off of my glasses, having just watched a sweet, poignant and tender film that reaches deep into our common heart and squeezes every drop of emotion out of it. The Fault in Our Stars, based on a young adult novel by John Green, is a simple story about two 18 year old ‘star crossed lovers’ who meet in a cancer support group. The title is a nod to Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar : “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves,” indicating that sometimes the things that occur in our lives, are within our control and others, totally out of our hands. The primary characters, named Hazel and Augustus have been given both a challenge and a dare when each was diagnosed with a disease that ultimately had the potential to end their earthly existence, but not their lives in the meantime. The challenge is living as fully as possible and the dare is love in the face of likely loss.
Inexorably drawn together, even though Hazel protested that she was “a grenade and at some point, I am going to blow up and I would like to try and minimize the casualties, ok?” Gus was having none of it and acknowledged: “It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
The immediacy of their circumstances allowed them to experience the conventional adolescent flirtation at a greatly speeded up pace.
I was struck by the maturity of the characters, played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (the actors have great chemistry and I found myself melting in recollection of first love energy) who were wise beyond their years; perhaps looking death in the eye on a regular basis can offer that perspective. The stellar cast includes veteran actors Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe. The former plays the role of Hazel’s mother with a gut wrenching pathos and the latter portrays a disillusioned alcohol soaked reclusive ex pat American writer living in Amsterdam.
The star imagery weaves its way through the movie: from the night sky into which Hazel gazes at the beginning and end, to her bedroom ceiling and the reference in a fine restaurant to the champagne they are given at dinner; as the waiter shared: “We have bottled all the stars tonight.” and “Do you know what Dom Perignon said after inventing champagne? He called out to his fellow monks, ‘Come quickly: I am tasting the stars.”
What I was most moved by was the willingness that Gus and Hazel had to bet it all on love.
“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
It occurred to me that I am rarely that courageous to offer words such as these and the two hours and some minutes in the darkened theater opened a place in my heart that will enable me to do that. Ok?
Photo credit: smply-me.tumblr.com