"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Saturday, 28 June 2014

High Pollen Count

Today we have nothing on so, wa-hey, a lie in. If we can remember what they're all about.

Then late afternoon we head off to the cinema. I’ve seen the ‘Fault in Our Stars’ coming over the horizon for quite a while, so when L says ‘what are the chances of you taking me to see this?’ I’m ready for it. How bad can it be?

Quite bad. Based on a best selling book by John Greene, our ‘heroine’ is Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodly), a teenager with terminal thyroid cancer and part-time grenade. Her lungs no longer work and so she carries an oxygen tank around with her in a handy backpack.

She’s also your typical surly teenage grenade, so she has to be coerced into attending a cancer support group. You do feel for her though when the group leader, a testicular cancer survivor, turns out to be religious nut that rolls out a large rug of Jesus at the start of ever session.

At this group she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a fellow teenager who has lost the lower part of his leg to cancer. Augustus, or should I say Gus, is with his friend Isaac who has eye cancer. Everyone knows that Isaac’s attractive big-chested girlfriend is going to dump him the minute he goes blind but he doesn’t see it coming. Notwithstanding that, Isaac is by far the best character in the film and is seriously underused.

Hazel and Gus immediately fall in love, they don’t know it obviously but we do. Now in true romantic fiction style, we just have to wait a couple of hours for them to get it together. Yes, it’s the same old format where boy gets girl, eventually.

Gus is seriously odd. He carries around a pack of cigarettes and occasionally puts one in his mouth saying ‘they don't kill you unless you light them’. It's a metaphor apparently as well as being ridiculous. Surely most girls would have dumped him on the spot.

She lends him her favourite book, he lends her his. We never find out what she thought of his but we do launch off into a rather random sub-plot where they track down the author of her book, which takes them all the way to Amsterdam where the author breaks his reclusiveness just for them. This then allows for an even more random visit to Anne Frank’s house where their first kiss is applauded by the general public. Not that anyone would have dared clap or kiss in such a sombre place.

This spurs them on to spend one night of passion together, although of course if they both hadn’t prevaricated and lived life for the minute they could have been at it for months. The message of the film seems to be to value every minute but these two don’t.

Back in America, it is revealed that Gus’s cancer has returned, his number is up and he asks Hazel to write a eulogy for him. Which is sort of sweet.

When Gus dies he could have been hit by bus, choked on his beef burger or even killed by aliens rather than dying of cancer. Any of these would have only required a minor script rewrite. Sadly this is a film about romance with a side portion of cancer as opposed to what it could have been, a film about cancer with a bit of romance.

Hazel goes on about ‘pain deserves to be felt’ but I think she means the pain of a teenage romance not the pain of cancer because the film never gets into what it’s like to live with cancer and they both look so damn well throughout.

So it’s hard to buy into the constant sniffling in the cinema which I at first put down to the high pollen count today but clearly it moved some people. As you can perhaps tell, this film clearly wasn’t made with me in mind.  

I do occasionally shed a tear at films, well I did at Marley and Me, but this film was seriously lacking in dog.

Of course Hazel could have perhaps saved the whole film if she’d quoted Ade Edmondson in her eulogy. Poor Gus, now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.

After eating at Broadway we have a few Old Peculiars in the Peacock where Daughter joins us after a shift at her new job in a restaurant in Ruddington.

(Saturday 28th June)

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