The Descendants) in the lead. Lazy Jennifer Lawrence comparisons aside, one thing this young actress shares with her fellow Hollywood contemporary is that she can convey a whole lot from seemingly doing very little. She brings much nuance and a heartbreaking delicacy to the role of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year-old with terminal cancer whose life has been prolonged by a new drug treatment. At the request of her loving parents, she reluctantly attends a support group where she meets and falls deeply for Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a fellow teen who is in remission. From the get-go, there's the impression that a fair amount of care has been taken here in faithfully rendering the lives of Hazel and Augustus.
The first-person narration of the text is successfully transitioned to a cinematic setting, and Boone is good at masking exposition, deploying it in some surprisingly affecting flashback sequences and through the use of some nicely-staged montages. He's able to balance the light with the dark, never losing focus on the hardships his characters encounter. Performance-wise, Elgort's muscular, preppy good looks betray the level of quality and skill underneath, and he takes a character that, in print, sometimes come across as very literary and contrived, and manages to completely ground him. Willem Dafoe brings a much welcomed spikiness as the disgruntled alcoholic writer whose novel (and ambiguous ending) the teens obsess over, and Dern is utterly fantastic as Hazel's long-suffering yet cautiously optimistic mother. Make no mistake - The Fault in Our Stars still fits snugly within that glossy Hollywood mould. Yet despite this, Boone's film rarely strikes a false note, filled with the kind of poignant moments which will thaw even the coldest of hearts.