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July 13, 2014 | by  | in Arts Film | [ssba]

The Fault in our Stars [Film Review]

The Fault in our Stars

The recent obsession for emotionally fraught, desperate Tumblr feeds has been The Fault in our Stars, a film which has swept the world’s movie conscience with heartfelt, sappy recognition. The cinema was ringing with choking noises of sadness which, to my own amazement, I was callously not contributing. It felt like I was an outside observer yet to be infiltrated by the subconscious beliefs of what I was meant to be feeling. There were serious faults in my feels. My lack of belief in the trauma of the movie left me feeling blasphemous, confused and cold-hearted, like when you’re the only one with your eyes open during prayer at a Christmas service. It was the same for the emotional experience that was The Perks of Being a Wallflower where I left the cinema with a conscience twisted with guilt at my annoyance towards the main character rather than the socially expected sympathy. My flatmate publicly cried upon telling people about the tears she shed in the safe darkness of the movie theatre. Anytime I try to contest the exaggerated praise towards both these films, there is mass genuine shock at my defiance. How dare I.

Acclaimed film critic for The Guardian Peter Bradshaw recently described The Fault in our Stars as “manipulative and crass”. The film’s success at “attacking our tear ducts’”, as he puts it, is truly astounding, and definitely not only among tender teenage girls. The word ‘okay’ has somehow become loaded with sensuality. The bench in Amsterdam that Hazel and Augustus got all cosy on has gone missing. The second of July was a day when social media recognised the death of Augustus Waters. These films seem to play upon vulnerability, accentuating shallow assumptions that commonly surround experiences like mental illness and cancer to draw in the already emotionally attuned and convert the hard-edged. Who can resist the poetic metaphor of carrying an unlit cigarette around in your mouth? The situations burdening the characters become a feature used by the movie to draw in an audience, rather than being developed and reflected upon as an essential part of a powerful story. It is always the love-stricken, heroic lines that supposedly define the worth of the lives we find ourselves leading and that become the objects of obsession for this movie’s viewers (not, might I add, the battle of dealing with cancer: that becomes the icing on the cake).

Maybe cynicism will be my “always”. ‘#the fault in our feels’ is trending because of over-thinkers like me. It may be my awkward aversion to soppy romantic spouting that means the line “you gave me a forever within numbered days” doesn’t make me sob my eyes out in the hope that someone, someday will say something similar (even if it’s true). And maybe I should appreciate the basic fact that these movies do inspire communal ‘feels’ with hope and appreciation for any silver lining in what are otherwise incredibly difficult lives fraught by circumstances such as having cancer. “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do get a say in who hurts you… I like my choices,” declares Augustus Waters, and yet the film denies you your choice of sympathy and deep reflection.

10 films which question your spirituality:

  1.  Innocence of Muslims: with a lifetime of only one solitary proper screening, this failure of a movie did its bit to help shake relations between the Middle East and the US when its YouTube trailers went viral for their depiction of the Prophet as a womaniser, murderer and paedophile, stirring the riotous temptations of Hezbollah among many others. Not only disrespectful to a substantial proportion of the world’s population, their shit quality and substance were an embarrassment to all (apart from maybe those American teachers who tell preschoolers humans walked with dinosaurs upon the creation of this God-given planet.)

  2. An artistic and unconventional interpretation of the biblical story, often held close to the hearts of children due to the animals involved, Noah has been attracting attention in recent months for its darker rendition of God trying to purge the earth of its sins.

  3. Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.

  4. Based on the book written by Scientology’s founder, Battlefield Earth promotes the religion’s claimed alien origins, aptly starring John Travolta. With a rating of 3% on Rotten Tomatoes and an excruciatingly boring trailer, unless you enjoy seeing Travolta with a weird nose plug, it is sure to be a waste of time.

  5. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God documents the steady and global exposure of widespread misbehaviour within the Catholic Church. Cleverly paced and very insightful, this film provokes an awe-inspiring sense of the power wielded by the spiritual institution.

  6. Of Gods and Men beautifully tells the true story of nine Trappist monks living in a remote part of Algeria and the challenges presented to them by the 1996 civil war. A poignant reflection on heartfelt devotion.

  7. Bruce Almighty.

  8. Still infamous for horrifying all audiences, The Exorcist was condemned by the Christian community in 1973, with one reverend declaring that the film rolls were possessed by the devil.

  9. Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch director of the short film Submission, was assassinated by a Dutch–Moroccan Muslim extremist in response to his ten-minute-long video depicting a Muslim woman in nude while wearing sheer traditional clothing and imprinted with verses from the Koran.

  10. Monty Python’s Life of Brian was reacted to strongly by Christian groups across the world, who obviously did not look on the bright side of life.



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