My 17yo daughter saw the Fault in Our Stars and did not like it. She felt as though she was being manipulated. She was not a fan of Shailene Woodley. As a result my expectations were low. I must have been coming to this picture from a different place I suppose. First I like Shailene and liked her work in The Descendants a great deal. I think that she has an edge to her and that she has a presence. Second I am a parent of a young child who had cancer. Early on in the film I felt as though the relationship with the parents to the daughter here was given short shrift, I think that as the movie progressed it improved. We dove more deeply into that relationship. This was a good thing as Laura Dern was good here. She carries and shows that uncomfortable balance that the adult as when dealing with a child who has cancer; you stay strong, remain positive, and then support the child as fully and best as you can.
Here the daughter is justifiably depressed at her condition and Mom looks to have her improve her attitude and life. She attends a cancer support group run by a Bible thumping guitar playing hippie. Then she meets the ex-basketball star who lost a leg from cancer. The rest explores their relationship. They explore a book together written by a guy in Amsterdam. They learn and grow and become attached. Then things happen for which I won’t proceed further. There is indeed some manipulation here. If you haven’t reached for a tissue a little past midpoint, then there is a couple more belts to your tear ducts. They are ALL after all, so very young. The adult in me wishes that young people didn’t have to face such moments as this. But they do. My time in Sick Kids Hospital showed that time and again. There is a good message here though, on why are we all here? And what is important and what does it mean to leave an impression and make a difference? I like the answer. Maybe because I agree with the perspective I liked the film more than my daughter. But I did like it. I like the young man here and find he was more interesting than Shailene.