Monday, June 09, 2014
"The Fault in Our Stars": This setting of "Love Story" really works; middle of film, set in Amsterdam, is the best part
I had expected “The Fault in Our Stars” (directed by Josh Boone, novel by John Green) to try to manipulate me into openness to “relationships” with people with physical challenges, and the very beginning seemed to reaffirm my concern. Hazel (Shailene Woodley), at 17, lives on oxygen, her lungs ruined as a secondary consequence of thyroid cancer (which Robert Ebert died from). Her parents (Sam Trammell and Laura Dern) encourage her to continue in cancer patient support groups, and build rapport with other people in her circumstances. But she meets an outgoing young man, Gus (Ansel Elgort), who seems fully recovered from earlier bone cancer, to which he has lost a leg. The relationship works, and it might be too much of a spoiler to say that appearances, as to who is physically the stronger, could be deceiving.
They meet a Dutch fiction author (Willem Dafoe) from Amsterdam, and Hazel wants to know what will happen in his next book. He gives her a curious answer, suggesting that authors (those who depend on their novels for a living) can’t give away their secrets online to anyone they don’t trust, but seems to invite her to Holland. This may sound a bit like a manipulative “make a wish” situation. They get to make the trip, and it seems as though the author’s assistant had set it up. The house is a mess (filled with unanswered mail), and the author is rude, although the comment he made about the Cantor Set in real analysis (in mathematics) was interesting to me. I really didn’t get the point about Swedish hip hop. But the couple has a wonderful three days anyway. They visit the Anne Frank house, which I visited myself in May 2001, on the last day of a trip. I don’t recall climbing a ladder to the highest floor of the house.
I do have a problem with the idea of promising intimacy to someone who is “not perfect”, since the dynamics of my own relationships depends on “upward affiliation”. I can melt in the hands of the “right person”, but what if something happens later and the person falls off the pedestal. It’s hard for me to imagine physicality with someone “till death do us part”. Can I do someone who needs a boost some good? That depends. What does the person really need? Where am I in my own life?
I saw the film at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington, with the reclining seats, and on a Monday night the 90-seat auditorium sold out for the 8 PM show, so it’s a good thing I bought on the Internet.
The official site(from Fox 2000 aka Fox Faith) is here. I don’t know how the filmmakers created the convincing effect of Mr. Ansel’s prosthesis, because imdb makes no mention of it. Nat Wolff plays a teen who loses both eyes to retinoblastoma.
I do recall seeing “Love Story” in Princeton NJ the first year I was working (Arthur Hiller’s film with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw). I have rented “The Diary of Anne Frank” and it was shown once when I was substitute teaching.
Wikipedia attribution link for Frank House. There is also an LGBT museum nearby. Second picture, from my 2012 visit to Indianapolis, at 30th St and Meridian.
The new film was shot partly in Pittsburgh, even though the story is supposed to happen in Indiana.