Monday, 1 September 2014

Unpopular opinion on "The Fault in Our Stars"

I've just watched Love Story.
No, this isn't a post about Love Story. I'm not crazy about it the way I am about The Apartment, My Fair Lady, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Breakfast at Tiffany's, blah blah blah (in fact, I don't like it very much), but this film reminds me what it was that irked me and made me dislike The Fault in Our Stars
(The film, not the book, which I haven't read. However I have read 2 other books by John Green- Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska). 
The Fault in Our Stars is not without its merit. It's funny sometimes. And sad sometimes. However, overall this film is pretentious, trite, maudlin and mawkish. Why pretentious? The names Hazel Grace and Augustus. The language they use. The cigarette metaphor. The faux-intelligent, pseudo-intellectual conversations. Etc. Why trite? The discussions on love, meaning of life, oblivion. Augustus fears oblivion (that's the word he uses), the 1st time Hazel Grace says that gradually everyone will be forgotten, the people who seem immortal now will also be forgotten (or something along these lines), later she gets furious at him, asking why it's not enough for him to have her and his family and her family and his friends remembering and missing him after his death. It has got boring, John Green has written the same idea in either Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska and who knows what else. And it's platitudinous. Why maudlin? Why mawkish? The kiss in Anne Frank's house, the applause given by the people around and Augustus's gesture as though after a performance. The scene in which Augustus asks to hear his friend's and Hazel's speeches at his future funeral. And most of all, the moment when Hazel recalls that after an operation back then as a kid, she's asked by a doctor to 'grade' her pain from 0 to 10 and held up 9 fingers, to which the doctor said she's brave, "calling a 10 a 9", then Hazel says she was saving her 10 for this (meaning Augustus's death). That should bring some tears, but instead of feeling moved, I simply find it corny. 
Why? I don't know. All I can say is that, throughout the story, the writer (John Green, or the screenwriter) of The Fault in Our Stars tries so hard to make it (appear) deep and sad and heartbreaking and tragic, tries so hard to bring tears (for many people, it works), spells out everything and fills the film with banal, redundant lines. To me, it just doesn't work.
But after all, what's the line between what's touching and what's mawkish? What's the line between something truly deep, thought-provoking and something pretentious? Or in other things in life... between sexiness and vulgarity? Between art and schlock? Between original, creative mixing of clothes or pure lack of taste? Etc. I don't think anybody can answer these questions, even if they can make a distinction. At least I can't. 

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