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Saturday April 13th 2024

The Fault In Our Stars | 2014

To its credit, Josh Boone’s’s film of John Green’s YA novel largely avoids the sentimentality and the pitfalls of the ‘terminal romance’ genre as 17-year-old Hazel (Shailene Woodley), living with a probably terminal cancer, bonds with and falls in love with 18-year-old Gus (Ansel Elgort), who’s in recovery after living through a similar experience.

The book is set in 'Indianapolis', but the film was made around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in the Netherlands capital, Amsterdam.

Hazel Grace bumps into Gus at her cancer support group, held “literally in the heart of Jesus” in St Paul's Episcopal Church, 1066 Washington Road, Mount Lebanon, south of Pittsburgh. The church retains its real name, though its location is of course changed to 'Indiana'.

Hazel lives with her loving and determinedly upbeat parents (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) at 821 11th Street in Oakmont, a few miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

Gus’s house is 300 Heritage Drive on the corner of Penhurst Drive, Wilkins Township just west of Monroeville Mall And, yes, his basement was filmed here too.

The mall bookshop in which they hang out is the branch of Barnes & Noble in the famous Monroeville Mall, 200 Mall Circle Drive– famous because of being taken over by the no-longer-dead in George A Romero’s 1978 Dawn Of The Dead.

The Funky Bones ‘skeleton’ installation, where Gus tells Hazel they’ll be going to Amsterdam, is based on a real art piece in Indiana, appropriately designed by Dutch artists Atelier Van Lieshout. The fibreglass construction can be found in the 100 Acres: The Virginia B Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis. For the film, it was meticulously recreated at Hartwood Acres Park, 200 Hartwood Acres, north of the city.

When Gus uses his wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam to question her favourite author, Peter van Houten (Willem Dafoe), there are establishing shots of the city but interiors for the European trip were largely filmed in Pittsburgh.

Gus and Hazel are seen walking and embracing near one of Amsterdam's main three canals – Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht. This is part of the larger area called "De Negen Straatjes," (the Nine Streets). It appears part of the movie was shot around Keizersgracht 510, an area also worth visiting for the local shopping.

In both the book and the movie, the couple stays at the Hampshire Hotel - Amsterdam American, Leidsekade 97, 1017 PN Amsterdam (tel: +31.20.556.3000)
on the Leidsepleiin.

The hotel interior, with the beautiful stained glass windows, is the Mansions on Fifth, 5105 Fifth Avenue at Amberson Avenue in Shadyside, east Pittsburgh.

Similarly, that’s the real exterior of restaurant Oranjee, 498 Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, but the lightbulb-filled interior where Hazel and Gus enjoy a romantic champagne dinner courtesy of the apparently generous van Houten,
was shot on a sound stage at 31st Street Studios in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Afterwards, the couple strolls through the Rijksmuseum passage to the strains of Vivaldi from a small street orchestra. The Rijksmuseum itself is one of the world’s great art museums, with a stunning collection of paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, topped by Rembrandt’s huge and overwhelming The Night Watch.

The home of drunken writer Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) is 162 Vondelstraat, Amsterdam – though again the interior filmed in Pittsburgh, at a house in Lawrenceville.

After an fractious meeting with the belligerent writer, has partner Lidewij (Lotte Verbeek) takes the pair sightseeing, visiting the Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam (tel: +31.20.556.7105)

Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family during World War Two to escape from the Nazis.

Together with seven others she hid in the secret annex at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. After more than two years in hiding, they were discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only one of the eight people to survive. After her death, the diary Anne wrote while in hiding was published and made her story famous – a powerful record of horrors of fascism. The house is now preserved as a museum.

The exterior and first-floor interior of the Anne Frank House are the real thing but practical requirements meant the staircases and upper floors were recreated in the Pittsburgh studio. Also, you’re no longer allowed access to the actual attic, as Hazel and Gus seem to do.

The bench on which Gus makes his shattering revelation is in front of Leidsegracht 4, where Herengracht and Leidsegracht meet. To the embarrassment of Dutch authorities, the famous bench disappeared temporarily, but has since been returned.

Trip over, they arrive back at Pittsburgh International Airport, 1000 Airport Boulevard.

The house of Isaac’s crumby ex, which Hazel, Gus, and Isaac pelt with eggs is 1304 Summit Drive at Eaton Drive, Oakmont.

The funeral, attended by an unexpected mourner, was filmed at Church Hill Cemetery, 260 Churchill Road in Wilkins Township, not far from Gus’s house.