A funny, heartbreaking romance based on John Green’s bestselling teen novel of the same name, this is the story of Hazel (Woodley), a 16-year old girl who has terminal cancer. Through her intelligent, sarcastic narration, we learn that her parents (Trammell and Dern) encourage Hazel to go to a support group to make friends, and it is there she meets Augustus Waters, a teenage boy in remission from the disease that has cost him a leg.
Staying faithful to the novel, the movie has the pair bonding over Hazel’s favourite book, written by a reclusive author (Dafoe) and falling in love as they embark on an adventure together. It does tone down the tougher parts of the novel, but for a weepie about kids dealing with cancer and possibly dying from it, it is surprisingly uplifting and rarely feels manipulative. Much of this is due to the two central performances. Elgort is just right as the slightly cocky older boy with a crooked smile, but it is Woodley – already acclaimed for her performances in The Descendants in 2011 and Divergent in 2014 – who really shines, delivering a real, thoughtful, funny and simply lovely performance throughout.
Some will scornfully say this is a tear-jerker, designed to make you cry, but actually it’s a sweet, beautifully played little movie that earns every tear you’ll shed.
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