I mean, that scene is word-for-word from the book, so don’t blame the movie! :) Yes, Gus is super pretentious at the start of the story. it’s a character flaw.
Gus wants to have a big and important and remembered life, and so he acts like he imagines people who have such lives act. So he’s, like, says-soliloquy-when-he-means-monologue pretentious, which is the most pretentious variety of pretension in all the world.
And then his performative, over-the-top, hyper-self-aware pretentiousness must fall away for him to really connect to Hazel, just as her fear of being a grenade must fall away. That’s what the novel is about. That is its plot.
Gus must make the opposite of the traditional heroic journey—he must start out strong and end up weak in order to reimagine what constitutes a rich and well-lived life.
Basically, a 20-second clip from the first five minutes of a movie is not the movie.
(Standard acknowledgement here that I might be wrong, that I am inevitably defensive of TFIOS, that it has many flaws, that there’s nothing wrong with critical discussion, and that a strong case could be made that I should not insert myself into these conversations at all.)
Jess, this is really hard and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to call you… It’s like a riddle.
“Noah” New York Premiere on March, 26
Just chopped off my hair for the big 40. Probably buy a red sports car and get a mistress next. - Idina Menzel
"For a while I kind of bought into the hype of, ‘Will they ever be able to play anything else?’ It gave me a sense of paralysis and stage fright for a while. And then a professor told me that they didn’t think I should act, either. So I was really grappling with it and wasn’t feeling good about it. And then, I don’t know…it got so bad and people had put me in a box so much that it started pissing me off. I suddenly wanted to prove them wrong. It gave me fuel, in a way. I’m not sure why that shift happened"