Then there is Gus, the charming boy who has a happy-go-lucky attitude towards life even though he survived through a osteosarcoma (bone cancer) attack that robs him of his leg. Unlike Hazel, he is a romanticist. He likes using metaphors to explain everything (they are super pretentious). He held a romantic view on life itself. And although he holds Hazel’s “rationality” and “smartness” in high esteem, I do believe that he is the one that has the most constancy with regards to his outlooks on life. In fact, subconsciously he may be the anchor that held Hazel down, and bring a sense of meaning and purpose to Hazel’s life, which will profoundly change her life from hereon. He is realistically optimistic, in the sense that he realizes his flaws, his vulnerabilities, and his weaknesses, and yet hold on to a cheerful outlook even in the bleakest of times.
Yet, despite these seemingly wide set of differences, they actually have much in common. They are non-conformists. They are smart, and they are quirky and seemingly have a different kind of aura that cloaks them, making them appear much more different than any other teenagers. I believe this is inevitable, and they must be different from other people of their age. Because they have battled the demons of disease while others are still pondering whether Nike or Adidas is better; because they have stared the abyss of mortality in the eye while others are hanging out in shopping malls. This is what sets them apart from other kids, and this is what the film wanted to explore.
But what intrigues me the most is not what is explicitly shown in front of me on the screen. The importance of this work, the theme of the movie lies not what is being shown or said; rather, it lies behind what is not being said. There is a tension and a subtle flow of emotions that paints, pervades, and underlies each and every scene and dialogue in between the characters. In one scene, we can see Hazel looking at Gus while Gus is looking at the other direction, and lowers her head and avoided Gus shyly when he returns his gaze towards Hazel lovingly. All the delicacy, the tenderness, and the intimacy Hazel held towards Gus (and vice versa) culminates in that one gaze, and although no dialogue is exchanged between the two in that scene, there is nothing else that needs to be said. Take another scene for example, in that scene, Hazel is talking with her parents, and one might start getting suspicious of a certain ambiguity in their conversations. It seems as if they are circumventing around a topic that they are clearly avoiding, namely that of death itself, or more precisely, the fear of death itself.
There are many other factors that made this movie stand out so much among this years numerous films, namely John Green’s or the director’s smart decision to make the characters unique and memorable while dispensing them from the horrors of cardboard characterizations and cliched teenager stereotypes. The editing is really good, and the soundtrack is pure eargasm to listen to. But one of my favorite reasons (my most biased reason) is that I personally admire Shailene Woodley greatly ever since I saw her previous works in the equally amazing films “The Descendants” and “The Spectacular Now”. “The Spectacular Now”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are smart coming-of-age films that depict our adolescent years with clarity and a touch of painful honesty that is tinged in nostalgia. It is these films that dared to break through the swamp of cliche “High School Musical” genre stagnation.
|Watch it! It’s worth it!|
|Bask in all the glories of Shailene Woodley-ness|
I encourage you to go and watch this film, as it is a film that depicts the human life at its most painful and heartbreaking, yet it provides profound hope that even though our mortality is the one fact with which we have to bear with, we can control how we confront it. Everything essentially distills into this one point: we have the choice, and it is up to us to make that choice, since no one else can make it. So whether you face it courageously, despairingly, with or without the support of loved ones, one must remember this:
The fault is never in our stars, it is in us. 🙂