The Fault in Our Stars

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who wrote the superior teen romance The Spectacular Now, reunite for this generous, sensitively performed melodrama about cancer-stricken teens who fall in love. Like the earlier movie, it was adapted from an acclaimed young-adult novel, features Shailene Woodley as a lonely young woman who blossoms in her new romance, and aspires to a gentle, moony tone. Yet James Ponsoldt, director of The Spectacular Now, sculpted his dramatic effects with a scalpel; Josh Boone, who directed this movie, uses a chainsaw. An emotional climax arrives every 15 minutes or so, and every affecting moment is underscored with a soppy light-rock song. With Laura Dern, Mike Birbiglia, and Willem Dafoe as a reclusive novelist based on Thomas Pynchon.