Feel Good Movie of the Year
Well okay there are still six months to go and Walking on Sunshine comes out this week but I kid you not you will feel better on leaving the cinema than when you entered. For those of you of a certain age and gender I don’t need to tell you this but the movie is based on a book written by John Green that was published in 2012. According to Wikipedia the title comes from a Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar.
The plot centres around the relationship between Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who meet at a cancer support group. Hazel is living with cancer while Augustus is supporting a friend who is about to lose his second eye in an operation. He has had his own brush with cancer which cost him part of his leg.
For me a film like this lives and dies on the chemistry between the two leads. You don’t need the best actors in the world. It is fortunate therefore that the sparks fly as the two exchange witty dialogue and texts. Hazel is keen to keep Augustus at arms length as she considers herself a bomb waiting to go off but he wins her over with his charm and insistence that he calls her by her full name. This is a nice juxtaposition with the modern world in which everything is shortened to text speak, lol, omg etc. There is a bonus with this movie in that Shailene Woodley is brilliant in the lead role. This is the second film I have seen here in following on from Divergent and it is very possible she is the real deal and I’ll be keeping a close eye on her future projects. The supporting cast is strong including Laura Dern as Hazel’s mother.
There is unfortunately a toe curling scene at the top of Anne Frank’s house (there is a a plot contrivance that sees the pair travel to Amsterdam) which is truly horrific and out of keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie. It took me out of the film for a about ten minutes. The end could have been tightened up a little as well with a couple of scenes that added nothing to the narrative. In the grand scheme of things these are two small flies in a large ointment.
Word of warning for anyone with a tendency to having a wobbily bottom lip. You will cry quite a bit and there have been unsubstantiated reports of teenage girls being carried out of screens suffering from dehydration. This movie has proven to be a surprise hit for me after I only chose to watch it because of the overwhelmingly positive critical response and big opening weekend in the US. The biggest compliment I can pay this movie is that it is a good movie full stop not just a good movie for girls. It’s unfortunate that it is being marketed at such a narrow demographic.