The Crying Game – ★★½
This film is designed to make you cry and should be the new international standard for the measurement of weepy films. Such were the levels of near hysteria during my screening, I’m surprised Kleenex didn’t sponsor the event. Although The Fault in Our Stars – based on the 2012 novel of the same name – does its best to put you through the ringer, it does feel that little bit shallow.
Whether it started with the book or only came to the fore with the film, you imagine a team of people working out the perfect formula to give maximum sorrow overdrive. Throw in X amount of childhood cancer, a dash of blindness and a boatload of heartbreak. If this film had a dog I’d be surprised if it didn’t have cancer.
Taking its name from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, that isn’t the only influence the bard had on the piece with Hazel and Gus a somewhat modern day Romeo and Juliet. Hazel (Shailene Woodley) meets Gus (Ansel Elgort) at a cancer support group and against her best attempts, they fall in love. The film then follows their budding love as they come to terms living with a terminal disease. Nat Wolff plays Isacc and it’s a pity he doesn’t feature more, as he seems to have been lifted straight from a John Hughes movie. It’s good to see Laura Dern as Hazel’s Mum but there is no real depth as the focus is all on our star-crossed lovers. Willem Dafoe has a great cameo of which I won’t say anymore about, as it would spoil too much of the film.
Inspired by the time the author spent as a chaplain at a children’s hospital, The Fault in Our Stars is grounded in some reality. At over two hours it does drag and the film is so brightly lit it makes Mary Poppins seem black and white. There are a few fleeting seconds where sickness is actually confronted, but more often than not it cuts to a voice-over while dramatic yet uplifting music is the backdrop to a montage of medical people saving the day.
If you want a good bawl for cathartic reasons or were a fan of the novel you could probably tack on another star to this review. The work is a brave attempt to try and tackle the reality of children with cancer but gets swept away in a bright melodramatic Disneyfied version of life never delving into the darker side of disease.
Released across Ireland on June 19th 2014