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Die Another Day

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James Bridges/20th Century Fox

MOVIE REVIEW
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

At first glance, “The Fault in Our Stars” promises to give a tried-and-true daytime soap trope — star-crossed romance afflicted with terminal illness — the Y.A. novel treatment. One can almost picture a weepie making an auditorium full of Directioners tear up as if on cue. It’s difficult to fault someone uninitiated for making that assumption; yet at the same time, that would be underestimating the film.

Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have remained faithful to John Green’s New York Times best seller, so much so that the only thing its hard-core fans can really take issue with is the fact that Shailene Woodley did not shave her head to make cancer-stricken heroine Hazel Grace look like Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta” as Mr. Green had limned.

As Hazel Grace begrudgingly humors a support group for young patients, Augustus (Ansel Elgort) strikes her fancy. Soon after swapping their respective favorite novels with each other, they resolve to embark on a trip to Amsterdam to meet a reclusive novelist (Willem Dafoe) to get some closure on the abrupt cliff-hanger in Hazel Grace’s favorite tome. As one would imagine, her condition makes the trip a tall order.

The film succeeds — just as the novel did — by overlooking the dire prognosis and the ticking clock to explore tentative desires for human connection and the attainment of realistic goals against a particularly fatalistic worldview. Mr. Green’s refusal to patronize his gravely ill protagonist for cheap sentimentality is admirable. Although certain plot points skirt dangerously close to clichés that more cynical viewers will have been dreading, somehow they manage to resolve plausibly. The story's wise and soulful moral on mortality should bridge any generation gap.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Opens on June 6 in the United States and on June 19 in Britain.

Directed by Josh Boone; written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by John Green; director of photography, Ben Richardson; edited by Robb Sullivan; music by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott; production design by Molly Hughes; costumes by Mary Claire Hannan; produced by Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 12A by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Shailene Woodley (Hazel Grace Lancaster), Ansel Elgort (Augustus Waters), Laura Dern (Frannie), Sam Trammell (Michael), Nat Wolff (Isaac) and Willem Dafoe (Peter Van Houten).

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