There is so much I could tell about this whole TFIOS movie experience! I may look unlikely of the targeted demographic (read: teenage girls) the studios want for the movie, I still so wanted to watch it because: (1) the book is my second favorite John Green book; (2) I love the book; (3) I intend to watch all Shailene Woodley movies post-The-Descendants; and (4) I just got carried away by the whole marketing mechanism the studios did for this movie. (Yeah, I know, I sound Van Houten cynical on that last bit.) But yes, the point is I loved waiting and waiting and waiting for months to watch the movie, so here I am now – writing a blog about the movie! – just after a ride home from the theatre!
PLOT! PLOT! PLOT! SPOILER ALERT!
I intend to write this thing via stream of consciousness so I am not Googling any detail I’m going to write nor will I edit things out later. For more reliable telling of the plot and everything, I will let the studios and other bloggers do it, but I assure you I am pretty much reliable.
I will tell my piece; here it goes:
Hazel is depressed, or so says her doctor, and she is advised to attend support group. On the kitchen countertop, she argues with her parents that if she wants them to experience life, why don’t she be granted of a fake ID so she could purchase liquor, and take pot, instead of attending support group. She accepts defeat by faking a stab on her torso with an imaginary dagger.
Hazel attends her support group meeting for the first time and dislikes it. She appeals for her parents to reconsider her quitting attendance; but once again, in defeat, she goes to the support group meeting the second time around.
She arrives at the church, goes to the comfort room, and exits from it clumsily. At the door, she bumps into someone – a tall boy in a green leather jacket, jeans and a pair of Nike high-cut sneakers reminiscent of Justin Bieber circa 2009.
She goes to the support group meeting area where she sees the boy again. They are in the middle of a room, sit in a circle with a carpet in the middle signifying the Heart of Jesus, facing each other, with a guy named Patrick facilitating. Patrick speaks, sings songs, and let his participants speak.
Isaac, a young man with a cancer related to the eyes, speaks up. He shares about his cancer, a bit of his life, his girlfriend Monica, and his friend Augustus. All the time Isaac is speaking, Augustus and Hazel engage in a staring duel. Hazel won.
As asked by Patrick, Augustus then speaks to them. He notes that he is an amputee.
“What are your fears Augustus,” asked Patrick.
“Oblivion” was Augustus’ response. He goes to explain why it is so. Patrick asks who wants to add something. Hazel speaks up.
Hazel’s second support group meeting ends; and she stands by the door outside the church. Augustus sees her. They watch Isaac and Monica share a hormone fest composed of kissing and groping.
“What’s with ‘Always’?” asked Hazel in reference to what she hears from Isaac and Monica. Augustus tells her that it is somewhat about their promise of forever to each other. A girl from support group greets Augustus passingly; Hazel pretends to be disconcerted. Augustus then flips a cigarette out of his jacket.
“Oh my God, you just ruined it!” exclaims Hazel, annoyed that Augustus seemed not to care about the condition of her lungs, the severity of cigarette smoking to human health per se, and their seeming attraction with each other.
“You see, this is a metaphor.” Augustus then goes on to tell Hazel that he does not light the cigarette – that he will not let the thing that kills kill.
Augustus proposes that they watch a movie. Hazel is reluctant as it is her first time meeting him, and that he may act in bad faith anytime soon. Augustus argues adversely.
Hazel’s mother drives by the doorway of the church and asks Hazel to leap in. Hazel refuses; she goes with Augustus instead.
Hazel endures a recklessly driven ride courtesy of Augustus. On the way she tells him her cancer story.
Augustus’ home is clad with things that have encouraging sayings. His parents are at the kitchen preparing enchaladas. He leads Hazel down to his room.
Augustus’ room is spacious and has a nook for his basketball trophies. They sit by the couch where they discuss Hazel’s favorite book An Imperial Infliction by Peter Van Houten. Augustus agrees not to speak with her until he finishes the book as long as she too reads the book A Hound of Insurgents, which is a book adaptation of his favorite videogame.
For several days Hazel awaits for Augustus’ call. One day she receives a text message from him asking if An Imperial Affliction has some pages missing. She gets herself excused from the dinner table and calls him.
Over the phone she hears howling. It appears that Augustus was in his room with Isaac. Hazel then comes over. Isaac is in despair because Monica broke up with him as she finds the thought of him losing the sense of sight unbearable. He then starts to break physical objects apart. Augustus lets him break his basketball trophies. The Augustus and Hazel flirting ensues.
Seemingly Augustus finds himself a notch higher in Hazel’s books as he successfully communicates with Peter Van Houten’s assistant. And until one day, after several correspondences, Hazel gets “an invitation” from Van Houten to come to Amsterdam. By that stage, the prospect does not go well though as the Lancasters’ are unlikely to finance for overseas trips.
One day, Augustus, clad in a basketball jersey and hands with a bouquet of tulips, is by the Lancasters’ doorsteps. He proposes that he and Hazel go to have a picnic by a concrete sculpture of a skeleton in a park.
Augustus then takes out their food – cheese and tomato sandwiches. He then asks Augustus how his preparations are all connected. His jersey was by an NBA player of Dutch origin. The sculpture was by a Dutch artist. Tulips are very Dutch things to give, and so are Cheese and Tomato sandwiches to eat. Augustus then spills to Hazel that he gets a wish from the Genies – an organization helping cancer patients on wishes of leisure – that they go to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten.
Everything seems to go well until Hazel’s cancer spikes up. For several days she is at the hospital, much to the worry of her parents and Augustus. This lessens the probability of their travel abroad.
Yet one day, Hazel sees an email from the Genies confirming their travel. Hazel’s mother happily confirms this to her.
Hazel, her mother and Augustus travel to Amsterdam. They ride a limousine on the way to the airport. As it is Augustus’ first time to fly, he finds the takeoff very scary and got reprimanded of “the metaphor” in his mouth.
On the night of their arrival, Hazel and Augustus got a reservation for a meal in a fancy restaurant. Hazel wears a beautiful blue dress – a gift from her mother. Augustus wears a dandy navy blue suit.
They sit inside the restaurant. The concierge regards them as Mr. and Mrs. Waters. They are given a glass of champagne by a chatty waiter – the champagne preferably the very first glass of their lives. Augustus chose for them the chef’s special entrée.
Their first dish was a risotto. Augustus remarks that if the risotto was a person, he would want to marry it at Las Vegas. The evening ensues with a wonderful conversation. “I’m in love with you Hazel Grace,” remarks Augustus.
In the morning the next day, Hazel and Augustus are to meet Peter Van Houten at his house. Hazel wears a tight shirt with a drawing of pipe and a passage written in Dutch. This intrigues her mother which Hazel wittily explains to her.
Hazel and Augustus arrives at Van Houten’s house. The entryway is full of unread fan-mail. Lidewij, Van Houten’s assistant, leads them in.
Van Houten is cold and snobbish towards them. He wants them out. He asks Lidewij for scotch. As it happens, Lidewij is the one who arranged the matters of Hazel and Augustus’ visit in an attempt to help Van Houten change his ways.
Van Houten asks Lidewij to turn the speakers on with a Dutch hiphop song. This angers Augustus. Hazel then tries to calm him down and just gets on to her point to Van Houten: for Van Houten to tell of what happens to the characters in An Imperial Affliction. He refuses to answer and ultimately wards them out.
Lidewij then goes after Hazel and Augustus. She treats them to a tour at the Anne Frank House.
Hazel, still feeling distraught, is struggling with the many stairs and ladders at the Anne Frank House. At the topmost room of the site, Hazel seems to have been very overwhelmed of her feelings, she kisses Augustus.
They go back to the hotel. They conclude the day on a wonderful note – a first time they share with each other.
The next day, Augustus and Hazel have some tea with Hazel’s mother. They tell her of their awful experience with Van Houten, missing out the bit they did at the end of the day.
Hazel and Augustus then spend time together sitting on a bench by a canal. Augustus confesses to Hazel that his cancer is peaking again.
They go back to their lives in Indianapolis. Isaac is now blind after his surgery. To make his friend cheer up, Augustus gets a plan done.
With five dollars from Hazel, they buy eggs to throw at Monica’s car. Monica’s mother catches them doing so, but goes back inside the house after hearing an illuminating explanation from Augustus.
On a night, Hazel gets a call from Augustus. As it happens, he is in his car by a convenience store, intending to buy a pack of cigarettes. Hazel drives to him and sees him in an emergency situation. He refuses to get some help but Hazel insists and calls 911.
After that night, Augustus’ cancer never got any better. His chemotherapy is discontinued as his body seems not to respond to the medication anymore.
Augustus arranges with Hazel and Isaac a pre-funeral at the church. He wants to hear from them their messages for his funeral.
On the day of the pre-funeral, Hazel gets into an argument with her parents for not eating. It then becomes clear to Hazel that her mother is getting ready for Hazel’s passing by becoming a social worker.
Augustus spent an afternoon at the park with Hazel. Eight days later, Augustus passed away.
Peter Van Houten was present at Augustus’ funeral much to Hazel’s annoyance. In the car on her drive home, Van Houten gets in and talks to her. Hazel is angered. He gives her a piece of paper which she crumples. Van Houten gets out of the car.
Isaac visits Hazel at her home. He says that Augustus wrote a letter to Van Houten which he must give to Hazel.
Hazel then retrieves the crumpled letter in her car. She reads it. It is a eulogy written by Augustus for Hazel’s funeral.
And the movie ends with Hazel remembering Augustus – of the love they had, they will forever have.
To be quite frank, I got pretty much worried at the first ten minutes or more of the movie. Sure, those minutes had some funny and heart-wrenching times but I think those lacked something. If I am to assess the manner, I find those minutes under-musically-scored. Plus maybe a thing about editing. Those minutes had a slower pace than the rest of the movie. Maybe the intention was to build up the narrative but I think it should have had more scoring and a quicker pace.
The plot thickens and gets interesting as the Amsterdam arch is introduced. Everything then looks appealing in a charming Woody Allen cinematic kind of way. There’s Ansel and Shailene enjoying the beautiful views. It all looks visually satisfying.
I loved the boat ride sequence and the restaurant sequence. The sex sequence was all very endearing too. It felt very erotic and cutely disturbing at the same time.
But my favorite of all was the Anne Frank House sequence. That was one great invention that the production added. I do not remember Hazel struggling with stairs in the book. Shailene’s acting was so mesmerizing. Within the context that Shailene’s character was so distraught of meeting a monster, to physical pain from climbing several steps, to bringing her fondness to a boy to the next level, Shailene delivers her role very well.
And of course, Ansel Elgort was very effective as Augustus Waters. Never did I imagine Ansel to do something like he did in here. I do remember him as Caleb in the movie and my Roth readings and as Augustus in my TFIOS re-readings, but I admit his rendition of Augustus was better than I imagined.
To tell the truth, my first visions of Hazel and Augustus upon reading TFIOS the first time were Natalie Portman during her V for Vendetta stage and Douglas Booth sans the movie LOL.
Nat Wolff as Isaac was a show stealer too. His scenes howling and breaking trophies and throwing eggs were utterly hilarious!
The screenwriters did a wonderful job helming this movie. Yes, it may kind of have confused some time elements along the way, but I think they pulled it altogether. They did a pretty good job sifting through the best subplots, linking them together, and choosing the best lines from the book and adapting them to the movie.
Overall, I liked the movie very much! It lived up to my expectations! Except for the first few minutes which I found underwhelming, it was utterly great!
I give the movie 3.5 stars out of 5.
All is fair in love and war and the nerdfighteria! DFTBA.