Following the huge success of last year's The Fault In Our Stars, an adaption of another one of John Green's hit YA novels was inevitable to follow and it has. Disposing of the drama of TFIOS for a more quirky, upbeat affair, Green's latest novel gracing the big screen is a personal favourite of mine: Paper Towns.

Ever since he was 9 and she moved in next door, Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff) has been in love with his mysterious neigbour Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne). Once friends as children, the two have grown up and gone their separate ways in school - Q's your typical quiet-guy nerd whereas Margo has gone on to be the cool, chic, popular girl that everyone falls head over heels for. Admiring her from afar, things change for Quentin when, one night, Margo sneaks through his room window and summons his assistance for a night of revenge. However, the next morning, Margo vanishes without a word. Whilst her family shrug this off (it's something they've come to expect from her), Quentin doesn't. Coming across little, elaborate clues that she left, Q - along with his friends Ben (Austin Abrams), Radar (Justice Smith), the latter's girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and Margo's best friend Lacey (Halston Sage) - sets out to try and find out just where she has gone. As the clues begin to join up, the group are led on a road-trip up the East Coast in an attempt to try and find Margo - complete with all sorts of mayhem and fun.
Just like last Summer's sleeper-hit, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns is yet another novel by notorious YA author John Green to get the 'Hollywood treatment' - as it's sometimes called; a glamorous, shiny, big-screen adaption. And whilst it won't be as big as the former, it certainly is a sweeter, more elegant affair. The film plays to many genres, at times it's a mystery, detective flick whilst also being a crazy, road-trip, adventure movie at others, but, at its heart, it's really a coming-of-age story, more than anything else, about friendship and about love and about these teens finding themselves as their senior year comes to an end. Sure, the premise may not exactly be ground-breaking or unique but what is nowadays anyway? It's the genuine sincerity and heart that director Jake Schreier and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber pack this film with that makes it as affable as it is.

Of course, Neustadter and Weber both wrote the screenplay for TFIOS, as well as 2009's brilliant (500) Days of Summer - both in similar territory to this. Paper Towns - whilst toning down the tragic notions - balances the quirky wit of the former and the endearing heart - if never as energetic - of the latter. Being the huge fan of the novel that I am, my expectations were immensely high for this, ane due to a screenplay that sticks true to the source material but is just generally intriguing and good, I can say that I was not disappointed. The plot may be rather contrived and utterly artificial from time to time, riddled with all the clich├ęs and idealised teenagers and lifestyles you've come to expect from these films but where Paper Towns excels is in its youth and it's authenticity and it's resonating message and its lovable characters and big, warm heart.

The real stars of this adaption are the ones that feature in it. You can't help but root for Quentin and his friends. The characters are be larger than life, all glossed up and idealistic; Margo is sugar-coated to perfection, every guy's dream girl and Q is too good-looking and witty to be the nerd he's portrayed as and the romance between the pair is just not textbook - let me not even mention the lack of caring from any adults on-screen. Yet, there's a undeniable sense of relatability to these free-spirited teens; we've all had a crush on that girl or guy way out of our league or we've all always wanted to go on an all-night revenge spree and get back at those bullies. You can't help but see yourself in these kids and root for the nerd to get the pretty girl or the cheater to get exposed for his true colours. But, the characters also show that there's more to some people, more to teens than first meets the eye.
Of course, the remarkable performances only add to these characters. The supporting cast is great, with Halston Sage, Justice Smith and Austin Abrams all giving terrific performances and adding a layer of depth to their characters - the latter two are especially hilarious. Nat Wolff is a stunner as our lead, appearing in almost every scene except maybe one or two. He brings a lot of charisma and energy to Quentin and his chemistry with the cast, most especially Abrams and Smith is excellent and really makes their friendship so believable. However, it's Cara Delevingne as Margo that really steals the show here. The model-turned-actress is a revelation, turning in a killer performance as the gem of Q's eye. Her beauty is so natural and flawless, with her dreamy eyes and accent, that it's not hard to see just why someone would go to such lengths to try and find her - heck, I would! Delevingne has a truly enigmatic and beguiling presence, like Margo herself, that demans your attention and, despite her minimal screen time, you can't help but love her the most - partly down to just how intricate and compelling her character is too.

Paper Towns is a quirky, poignant and, most of all, enjoyable teen flick. Sure, it's a pretty by the numbers, boil-in-the-bag story but director Jake Schreier adds a refreshing, fun twist to it - as he did with his last film, directorial debut Robot & Frank. The crazy adventures featuring Q and Margo getting back at her ex-boyfriend - graffiti, cling-filmed cars and eyebrow removal are all included - make for a thoroughly entertaining, energetic and feel-good first half of the film before a more touching, sweeter ending that will even tug on the heartstrings a little. Although, sometimes the tonal shifts feel a bit forced and all over the place. It's a film that encapsulates life as teenager: hanging out with your friends and having the time of your life. The love-story is commendable and works fine, if all just a little too familiar - as romance in films gets. It's the wit and charm that'll get you though, boasting a big, poignant heart. You're going to have a blast watching it if never so much believing it - but that's what works here.

VERDICT:
Fun-infused and as enigmatic and crazy as Margo herself, Paper Towns is a great adventure story but an even better coming-of-age one. Witty and wonderful, this is a sweet, uplifting and beautiful tale of love, friendship and mystery with a killer Delevingne as Margo.
★★★★☆

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

Related Posts

0 comments