Ansel Elgort gives Oscar caliber performance in 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Sat. June 7, 2014 8:21 AM by Gregg Shapiro

ansel elgort and shailene woodley

photo credit // fox 2000
It's hard to find fault with John Boone's big screen adaptation of John Green's Y/A novel masterwork The Fault In Our Stars (Fox 2000). As faithful as a two hour movie can be to the near-epic tome on which it is based, The Fault In Our Stars is a luminous cinematic tragedy, falling somewhere between Love Story and Terms of Endearment.

Like the book, the movie version eases us into the looming trauma with humor. It's an effective device in putting the viewer at ease while introducing us to the characters. Main character/narrator Hazel (Shailene Woodley) attends a cancer support group, oxygen tank in tow, at the urging of her concerned and caring parents Frannie (Laura Dern) and Michael (Sam Trammell), who think she's depressed. Their nudging pays off because Hazel meets the charismatic Augustus (Ansel Elgort), who lost half a leg to osteosarcoma, and her life is forever altered.

Getting better acquainted via texts (presented animatedly on screen), through the books they share and the movies they watch, Hazel and Augustus fall in love before our eyes. Before you can say "make a wish," the pair is bound for Amsterdam where they hope to get answers from reclusive writer Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) about some of the mysteries surrounding his one and only book.

This is the proverbial beginning of the end. After sharing a romantic dinner and a night of intimacy, the trip reaches near-catastrophic levels on a few occasions. Once back home in Indiana, things take a sharp turn for the worse and the waterworks begin. If you are prepared for what follows – including the gas station scene – then you will be better able to appreciate the film as a whole, including the breathtaking performances.

Woodley has already proven herself to be a rising star, on par with Jennifer Lawrence, in films ranging from The Descendants to Divergent. But the real star of the show – especially judging by the squeals, swoons and sighs of the tween/teen girls and gay guys in the audience at the screening – and rightfully so, is Elgort. This is a breakout performance comparable to Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. You never doubt his character for a second and his performance, as well as Woodley's, is Oscar caliber.

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