ROMANTIC DRAMA; 2hr 6min
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
Stars-crossed: Elgort and Woodley
Even with her lustrous mane shorn and while lugging an oxygen tank like an onerous pet dog, as cancer-afflicted Hazel Grace Lancaster, Shailene Woodley has the lanky, clean-skinned loveliness of a classic American ingénue.
Few conditions are more defining than the terminal. But as the readers of John Green’s moving, affirming and cherished 2012 young adult novel know, despite Stage-4 thyroid cancer that is now in her lungs, 16-year-old Hazel is neither down nor out. She’s pragmatic, courageous and trying hard (at first) not to be sweet on 18-year-old Augustus Waters (Elgort, beaming with cherubic cheer). For his part, Augustus, who has lost a leg to osteosarcoma but is now in remission, is holding on for dear life to the girl who, plain as day, is his soul mate.
Hazel and Gus’s shared discoveries are a thing of defiant, joyous beauty in print and on screen. Director Josh Boone (Stuck in Love) honours Green’s buoyant ethos while an uncontrived Woodley and Elgort are a poster couple for carpe diem. Although tears are an inevitable subtext, the essence of their heartening connection is a celebration of life doubly precious for its brevity.