from an article originally posted June 10, 2014...
A kind group of women joined me last night for a big cry. With tests approaching, I have been feeling all the edges. I felt like a big cry was in order. I knew enough about this movie to know it would deliver. I had not read the book, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I just knew it was about cancer. So I was fairly certain someone would be dying.
This movie is really about the love story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. They sweetly use full names in such endearing ways. This movie had a lot of special moments, and I was watching particularly to see if I would want Ella to see this movie, as she’s asked. I also think this is the first movie to include texting in a meaningful way. Texting is how so many communicate, and they appropriately included that interaction.
My friends and I remained an hour after the movie and cried, laughed, and discussed what we did and did not like about the movie. First, we all saw real genuine strength in the acting. These certainly could not be easy roles, and one would expect over acting, but they handled the subject well. We all really appreciated the acting.
As someone in this battle, I was particularly pleased that they didn’t deal with treatment extensively through the movie. I remember my sister-in-law telling me as a nurse she can’t watch hospital drama scenes. She says they are often terribly misrepresented. So I know I would have felt that way about cancer treatment scenes. They were there, but in simple ways; they were not the focus. There wasn’t a moment where I thought, It’s not like that. I really related to the part where the young woman with cancer said she felt like she was a grenade. Where she knew she would one day explode and leave casualties. She was withdrawing from relationships to keep the casualties at a minimum. I feel that temptation, but I fight that temptation.
All of us watching were sad that the hope of heaven and faith played such a small role. So this movie leaves one with little hope in that department. My friend Cristy said that once she realized that would not be there, she was sad, but then simply let herself enjoy the sweet love story.
The character of August Waters is delightful, tender, and charming in every way. They cast these two well. There was an awkward kissing scene in the Anne Frank house that felt awkward and inappropriate given where they were. And there is also a sex scene I would be uncomfortable for Ella to see.
All of us agreed there were strong moments throughout the movie, especially with the parents of Hazel Grace. They articulated love well and share hard together. The quote Pain demands to be felt was a threaded theme throughout the movie. I really appreciated it. The idea that pain isn’t avoided or wrong, but felt and walked through.
I remember when I was a teen I loved seeing sad movies—loved it. Something seemed real about books that dealt with death. Bridge to Teribithia, Philadelphia, Michael Keaton’s movie called My Life, Untamed Heart. If a movie was sad, I was there. So I understand why so many are heading to see this movie. It makes you think, helps you cry, and makes you wonder over big life questions. It demands you to ask, What is it all about?
I did enjoy this movie. It doesn’t answer any big questions of death or heaven, but it certainly makes you leave asking them, and in that I think it’s redemptive. The four of us sat after and laughed and cried through our thoughts about the movie. I cried at moments that weren’t particularly sad. There was a moment where the mama was looking proud upon her daughter dressed beautifully for her date. I cried then. Cried for that moment I long for with my kids, but it wasn’t a sad moment—simply sad for me.
You must decide for yourself if you want to see this movie. If you do take a child with you, I would highly suggest a coffee date after to process all that this movie brings to the surface. I don’t think sad should be avoided, but I certainly feel it deserves to be discussed and hope introduced in heaven and grace.
I don’t think my girl is ready for this, but we did talk about a few old movies that discuss the theme of dying well. Remember the movie A Walk to Remember? I think I might dig that up for Ella and me to watch together. Sometimes a movie helps us cry in the deep recesses of heart that need to be released.
I once loved to cry in movies—loved it—but now I live on the cliff of despair. I have to protect my heart from falling in the chasm of fear and despair. Having my friends with me last night made all the difference. At one point, one friend braved tears and shared her heart and love with me in a way that was such a gift. The movie gave her courage to share her heart. The movie encouraged that—share before death. Isn’t that beautiful? Don’t wait until someone dies to express your heart and feelings.
Those are my thoughts. I’m not sure if it helps. I’m glad I went, but more glad for the friends that walk with me through this. That is what made the movie bearable.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this movie. Are you going? Or is it too close, too hard?