More Than Just “Okay”: "The Fault in Our Stars" Trailer Analysis

Mary Baker ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer


“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”

John Green’s 2012 New York Times bestseller The Fault in Our Stars (commonly known to fans as TFIOS) was optioned for film the same month it was published, an early indicator of the book’s popularity. The novel, which tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers who meet in a cancer support group, has been called “damn near genius” by TIME magazine and has received similar accolades from other critics.
The book’s massive success, combined with its ravenous fans, made for a perfect storm of trailer anticipation that began January 28th. Green released a ten-second teaser on Vlogbrothers, the YouTube channel he shares with brother Hank Green. The teaser, also released on Green’s Instagram account, had received over 16,000 likes overnight.
The full-length theatrical trailer, released on January 29th, appears to follow the theme of the book very closely. Somewhat fittingly, the first shot in the trailer is stars, recalling the quote from Julius Caesar that gives both Green’s novel and the film its name. The camera then flashes to our heroine, Hazel Grace Lancaster, played by Golden Globe-nominee Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Divergent). A voiceover of text lifted directly from the source material accompanies several clips. Our two leads, Hazel and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort: Divergent, Carrie), spin romantically while accompanied by a twinkling piano score. We see them laughing and kissing, and everything appears to be status quo for a typical romance in this day and age.

Hazel (Woodley) and Augustus (Elgort) kiss. (0:14)
Hazel (Woodley) and Augustus (Elgort) kiss. (0:14)
Then comes the element that will set this film apart from others in the romantic young-adult genre. All the twinkly piano music comes to a dead stop as the trailer cuts to a close up of Woodley’s incredibly expressive face, suddenly breaking the whimsical spell that the viewers had been put under. This not a typical romance, the trailer warns us. This, as the film’s official poster’s tagline reads, is “one sick love story.”
After this dramatic interlude, the trailer transports viewers through the quirky, celestial tune “What You Wanted” by OneRepublic, to the crux of the story. Hazel is shown entering her cancer support group, cajoled by her mother (Laura Dern, Enlightened) to “make some friends.” And make friends she does, as we see her first interaction with Augustus.
There were many fan complaints at the initial casting news of Woodley and Elgort, for the two are playing siblings in the upcoming Divergent film. Many wondered whether they could convey the electric romantic chemistry between the two beloved characters after playing brother and sister. Those fans shouldn’t have to worry any longer, for it is clear from their first run-in that the film portrayals of Hazel and Augustus have just as much charm and spark as their literary counterparts. Even through the mere two minutes and twenty-nine seconds of the trailer, we can Hazel falling in love with Augustus and vice versa.
“Why are you staring at me?” “Because you’re beautiful.” (0:54)
“Why are you staring at me?” “Because you’re beautiful.” (0:54)
Speaking of the novel, much of the dialogue from the trailer seems to be taken nearly word-for-word from Green’s novel. The quick scene in the cancer support group matches Green’s description of the “literal heart of Jesus” to a T. Director Josh Boone (Stuck in Love) admitted on his Tumblr that “the script is filled almost entirely with beautiful quotes from the book”, a fact sure to pacify the book’s fans both young and old. The textual layovers being used are even the same font used on the cover of Green’s book.
The trailer goes on to show the arc of Hazel and Augustus’ romance, with notable shots of Hazel wearing the infamous “ceci n’est pas une pipe” shirt (0:57), reading what appears to be the fictional book central to TFIOS’ plot, An Imperial Affliction (1:00), and sitting on the heavily symbolic swing set with Augustus (1:12). The viewer is also introduced to Isaac (Nat Wolff, Stuck in Love), Augustus’ best friend who is already setting himself up to be a scene-stealer in a movie laden with talented actors.
Suddenly, the bittersweet trailer takes a turn for the worse as Hazel mentions that she is “a grenade” who will one day “blow up and obliterate everything in [her] way.” This is the unfortunate truth about a movie with two teenage cancer patients. It might be a love story, but it is also a love story with an incredibly realistic element to it that comes through in the following scenes where we see shots of Hazel hospitalized.
The trailer continues as Augustus declares his love for Hazel and they engage in the typical tropes of a cinematic romance but in a way that has perhaps never been done before. The complications of Hazel’s lung cancer are clearly visible throughout the trailer, with her shirt even getting caught on her cannula (1:48). “We are a hot mess” she exclaims. A hot mess, maybe, but this is a mess that carries on the rest of the trailer with unrelenting passion and incredible acting.
Hazel and Augustus in Amsterdam. (2:02)
Hazel and Augustus in Amsterdam. (2:02)
The final shot of the trailer recalls the most quoted line from the book, Hazel and Augustus’ “okay/okay” affirmation, in a way that closes a near-perfect trailer for a movie that will hopefully capture the heart and magic of its source material.
Hazel tells Augustus she is “thankful for [their] little infinity.” After a trailer of this caliber, it is certainly going to feel like an infinity until The Fault in Our Stars is released in theaters on June 6th.

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