I picked the above tagline because nothing says "taking things seriously" like making a pun about cancer. That's the sort of quality you can expect out of today's Tagline, in honor of the spectacular commercial romance that is Valentine's Day, I'm starting off the month of February with TEARJERKER SADTIME ROMANCE WEEK. To that end I started off by choosing The Fault in Our Stars, a movie that critics and moviegoers wet their pants over when it was released, and starring my favorite galpal Shailene Woodley. The Fault in our Stars presents the age-old story, told time and again, of a girl who falls in love with a boy, only they both have cancer. Also Willem Dafoe is there as a drunk guy who wrote a book they like. There are nuances and wrinkles to the story, but I have just encapsulated the big picture. The boy in question in this case is Augustus Rivers (played by Ansel Elgort, who I last saw when he was being brutally killed in a paranormal bloodbath in Carrie, the remake one), who lost his leg to cancer but now is on the mend and living life bravely and eccentrically, as any good movie boy who explodes into the life of a hopeless girl. His offbeat outlook and lovable quirks initially cause friction with Hazel (Woodley) but naturally over time and wild antics the two come to love one another, despite the dire circumstances of Hazel's life.
|Egg your ex's car, because she's done uncool stuff.|
So okay, nothing even noteworthy here except for the whole extra super mortality angle of the main character having terminal cancer. The movie introduces some other action by way of a book that Hazel is obsessed with, written by some guy who never wrote anything ever again. Hazel introduces Gus to the book and he is also enthralled by it, and naturally show-stealer that he is decides to email the author's assistant to try and arrange a meeting (despite the fact that he lives in Amsterdam). Both Gus and Hazel want to know what happened to all the secondary characters after the end of the novel, a book which sounds by all descriptions to be as IMPORTANT and GRAVE as this movie/book is. The complication of course is that Hazel has serious respiratory issues (one of the fun souvenirs of her disease) so a trip to Amsterdam will prove difficult at best. Of course they find a way though, and it is romantical and enchantical as you'd expect, despite the author turning out to be a spectacularly huge nob and drunk (and it is obvious to everyone except the characters in this movie that he behaves this way because HE TOO lost a loved one to cancer). Then it's time for the doubletwist SPOILER ALERT: despite what the movie wanted you to think, Gus actually has super bad cancer and is going to die before Hazel. So there you go, if all the near death wasn't getting your emotions going by forcing you to face the idea of mortality, maybe a different character than the one you expected dying will do it instead.
|I... I don't actually have a good snark for this one. Make your own.|
I saw a lot of reviews that said the movie was never cheap in its emotional evocation, but I don't see how you could possibly think that. Everyone knows that the cheapest way to get a rise out of the audience is to kill someone, and this movie runs from beginning to end with the grim reaper tagging along for the ride.The story is trying to say that this is all very tragic and meaningful, and I suppose that's true as much as any other story about young love lost, but it's also not particularly unique, or even sort of unique, except that it is most likely difficult to relate to for the majority of audiences, at least in its particulars. Most of us will probably be at least lucky enough to not simultaneously have cancer, and fall in love with someone with WORSE cancer, and also our mutual friend is blind because of you guessed it, cancer. I suppose all these things COULD be true, but this movie never rose above the level of forcing people to stare death in the face to try and get some sort of response.
|Does this look like a Sprint commercial to anyone else?|
Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that oh yeah I loathe Shailene Woodley, so having her featured as the protagonist didn't exactly endear the movie to me to begin with. I think that this movie was probably the best performance I've seen out of her, but Divergent does make me feel like punching something whenever I think about it, playing in theaters forever and ever. Critics disagree, they mostly felt this film was powerful and special and touching and a bunch of other words meant to tell you EMOTION and IMPORTANT. I didn't watch that movie. I watched a movie that made me sad, and caused me to think about how fragile life is, but no more than if I'd been exposed to any other thing that involved a reminder of our inevitable mortality. If you felt something deep and significant while watching this movie, chances are that feeling was inside you already waiting for any excuse to come out. Don't give the credit to Shailene Woodley. That will just encourage them to MAKE 100 MORE DIVERGENT MOVIES.
Anyway, that's all for today my teary eyed friends! Join me again on Thursday for more sad almost dead girls!