Today I went with some friends to see The Fault in Our Stars, a movie made from an amazing book about two teens dying of cancer who fall in love. I know, sounds horribly depressing, but it's really not. Sad, yes. But the good kind of sad, where you sigh at the end and walk away feeling good because you truly felt.
The movie was different. Well, actually, the movie was pretty much exactly the same as the book, they mercifully stayed incredibly true to it which is so rare and so fantastic. But it was different for me to watch it than to read it. Why? Because of Hazel's parents. The book portrayed them as loving parents trying to cope with the inevitable death of their only child while simultaneously trying to take the best possible care of her while still encouraging her to get out there and life life while she still can. They were good parents who obviously loved their daughter.
But in the movie, her parents (played by Laura Dern of Jurassic Park fame and some guy I'd never seen before who looked to be at least 10 years younger) were, well, amazing. What didn't come across on page came across powerfully on screen and I ached for them. I could feel every single emotion they felt dealing with this horrible, emotional roller coaster ride that could come crashing to an halt at any time. As I watched them stand over their not-so-little girl anymore, trying to hide their tears but obviously falling apart on the inside, I found myself completely overcome with emotion, fighting back tears and swallowing a serious lump in my throat. And that's when it hit me: I have transformed. I didn't get choked up when Gus died, or when he told Hazel he loved her, or when they cried together after he told her he was dying. No, I got choked up when Hazel's mom couldn't handle the fact that she couldn't afford to give her daughter her one dying wish. When her dad carried her like a baby in his arms into the ER one night when she couldn't breathe and felt like her head was going to explode. When it flashed back to a 13 year old Hazel in the hospital taking what they thought were her last breaths and they stood over her sobbing, telling her it was okay to let go. I almost couldn't handle it, because I was them, and that 13 year old girl could have been my own sweet, precious, amazing 13 year old girl.
And that realization, that suddenly I was relating to the parents of the teen instead of the teen in love was kind of shocking. When did that happen?? I'm not gonna lie, it was a little disconcerting. Am I like, grown up now? Or just...a parent of a teenager? It's so bizarre, I still don't know what to make of it. But it was eye-opening. And so, so powerful. And weird.
Anyway, my point is...I don't really know what my point is. I guess one is that there are certain things that just cannot be portrayed on page like they can onscreen. Another is that the actors were amazing and the filmmakers did a bang-up job of transforming the book to film. And a third is that self-realization can hit you anywhere, even in a dark theater surrounded by your friends who are all crying except for you. Because that, at least, is something about me that will probably never change.