When my 14-year-old son requested that I looked for the book he borrowed from his friend, I thought ‘The Fault in Our Stars” was another of his fantasy, or thriller books. So when I read that in Straits Times Life!’s review that it’s a teenage weepie, I invited him to watch it together.
Now I admit I hardly cry in movies. It’s takes a lot to make me cry. Korean and Taiwanese do a better job than Hollywood in making weepies, although I remember crying in the boxing drama The Champ.
This book/movie, about two teenage cancer survivors falling in love, failed to pull that heart string. For one thing, 17-year-old Hazel Lancaster, suffering from lung cancer, didn’t particularly come across as sickly. In fact, her tan, big-boned body depicts her better as a healthy athlete. As she narrates her story of living with cancer since she was 13, the audience’s first thought was that she would die. Then, she meets 18-year-old cancer survivor Augustus. They bonded over a book about a cancer victim with an abrupt ending which prompted them to go to Amsterdam to meet with the author.
As a mother watching in a cinema hall full of teenage girls is a new experience itself. The movie made a big deal about him being a virgin when to me, 18-year-old virgin should be the norm. And when the couple went to bed in Amsterdam, the girls in the hall screamed and giggled. Really!
Hazel becomes breathless climbing up stairways, so why do I get the impression that her bedroom is at the top of the house? Her parents often appear breathless running into her room whenever they think she has an emergency. She wheels her oxygen tanks around with her, but no one lends her a hand to carry the tank when she struggles up to Anne Frank’s attic during a tour. And when the couple kissed at the attic for the first, the people around clapped! Hello? Is this for real? Haven’t they seen teenagers making out? In an Asian society, there would be looks of disapproval instead.
American mothers are indeed different from Asian mothers. In the movie, the mother accompanies the couple to Amsterdam, acting more like a lamp-post than a parent as the couple cuddled on the plane or requested privacy. How awkward can this be?
I asked Aaron if he seriously enjoyed the book? He explained the book was never intended for a parent like me to read, but for teenagers. But, shouldn’t a good love story be trans-boundary, across generations and age?