The film is one of the most anticipated of the year, and it's an adaptation we're whole-heartedly rooting for. The Fault in Our Stars , as a novel, has left audiences smitten with its witty dialogue, flawed but likable characters, and heart-breakingly bittersweet storyline. The characters are plagued with cancer, blindless, the loss of a leg, and even death — and part of the success of the YA novel is it's realness — it's truthfullness — in execution. Cancer is not sugarcoated or romanticized, it is explored. As the film's male protagonist states: "That the thing about pain, it demands to be felt." And we feel it through the lense of teenage Hazel Grace Lancaster and her love Augustus.
And as Hazel and Gus navigate the waters of their illness and their love for one another, the inevitable happens. Teenage hormones, a ticking clock and pure passion congeal together into one heartfelt and genuine moment of lovemaking. The teenagers, in a moment of want and hastiness, have sex, and it's what the audience wants to see. We want these two dying teens to express themselves physically, if not for the sole reason that they may never get to experience the act again. But this scene, while necessary for the book's progression, was one of the only parts of the novel criticized by audiences. The scene begins in perfect succession with the story's genuine feel. John Green writes:
"We crawled into the bed, my freedom circumscribed some by the oxygen, but even so I could get on top of him and take his shirt off and taste the sweat on the skin below his collarbone as I whispered into his skin, 'I love you, Augustus Waters,' his body relaxing beneath mine as he heard me say it. He reached down and tried to pull my shirt off, but it got tangled in the tube. I laughed."
What begins as a clumsy and realistic scene, a description similar to many of our "first times," transforms into something PG, and family friendly. The last thing we'd want for Augustus and Hazel's intimate moment.
The whole affair was the precise opposite of what I figured it would be: slow and patient and quiet and neither particularly painful nor particularly ecstatic. There were a lot of condomy problems that I did not get a particularly good look at. No headboards were broken. No screaming. Honestly, it was probably the longest time we’d ever spent together without talking.
There's nothing wrong with the post-act description. It suits the story just fine, but what we are lacking is any real details. How does having sex with someone without a leg work? What is it like needing an oxygen tank to breath during the act of sex? What were they thinking during the fact? We know they used protection, thanks to Green's description of "condom-y" problems, but the author could have used this moment to depict teenage sex in a real way. He says that it wasn't that noteworthy, but while the act may not have been the stuff of Edward's headboard-breaking Twilight scene, certainly there were emotions at play. The scene ends and the next chapter begins without another word on the matter, how it may have effected the pair's closeness, or how it left the couple feeling. These are questions young teenage virgins (who may make up a large portion of the novel's audience) may seek to have answered. This being said, everyone's circumstance and first time is different, but we would have loved to know how it was for Hazel Grace.
This may be the first and last time we ever say this, but for the film's rendition of the scene, we hope the adaptation strays from the book. We hope the cinematic version will look to well executed teen sex scenes in other films, like the flawless one in Woodley's The Spectacular Now, as a guide to how to approach Gus and Hazel's. The Spectacular Now 's sex scene is awkward, honest, and even uncomfortable to watch, but that's what makes it charming. It is silent and thoughtful, but nonetheless plain. There are no fireworks or billowing sheets, but there are questions asked: "Does it hurt?" Miles Teller asks Shailene Woodley's character. And "Go slow," she says to him. It's important to see these moments and realize that communication during sex is normal and expected, especially for first times.
The trailer for The Fault in Our Stars offers a glimpse into this scene. "We are a hot mess," Woodley's Hazel exclaims as Gus throws her shirt to the floor, tangled with her oxygen cords. This is a promising start, and we hope the film continues to showcase Hazel and Gus's imperfectly perfect relationship through real, honest and genuine scenes.
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