Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Fault in Our Sobs

Today I watched The Fault in Our Stars which is an outstanding movie about two teenage people in love, who happen to have cancer. It is adapted from an eponymous book written by John Green who is one of my idols - a nerd with a passion for sharing knowledge and wisdom, who creates some of the most inspirational youtube educational videos out there.

After reading some glowing reviews online, I went to the cinema expecting a fully enjoyable experience with my wife. Unfortunately, my expectation fell way short - the movie itself is excellent, but the experience was not. It was probably a bit dumb of me to not have foreseen the general population of the movie audience of this movie.

High school girls.

For almost the entire movie, quite a number of these young souls were sobbing so loudly that I am constantly distracted from the movie itself. Obviously this being a tragic romance, most people would shed a tear or two in the cinema; but these few girls brought it to an entirely different level by crying louder than the characters in the movie itself. I was not even just unfortunate to be sitting close to them; they were sitting some three to four rows away from me.

In fact, they were still sobbing in the shopping centre after the movie.

I think there should be movie etiquette somewhere that says "thou shalt not impair fellow moviegoers' experience". In fact I am sure there already is, and the same principle is what underlies the banning of mobile phone, crunchy chips, and spoiling the plot. I would kindly argue that sobbing at 90 decibels should probably be one of them too.


Spoiled experience aside, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the relative accuracy of portrayal of illness, medicine and disease in general in this movie. As a hopeless fussy nerd, it really helps with keeping my annoyance at bay when I see an accurate portrayal of a tight fitting non-invasive ventilation mask for a girl in respiratory failure from worsening pulmonary effusion. Or a chest drain inserted to drain a pulmonary effusion (albeit being on the opposite side of what is shown on her X-Ray). And the delayed shortness of breath as she struggles to make up for the oxygen debt after climbing the stairs.

Tiny things like these show that these are done by people who have seen actual patients instead of just making it up, like most Hong Kong dramas do. They help make things real enough and allows you to start feeling empathy for the characters, instead of being constantly reminded of the artificiality of the movie. The fact that John Green drew his inspiration from his day as a student Chaplain in a children's hospital also helped. He's just such an awesome guy.