Directed by Jake Schreier, Paper Towns is based on The Fault In Our Stars author John Green‘s novel of the same name, and tells the coming-of-age story of Quentin (Nat Wolff) and his enigmatic neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne). After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears, leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his friends on an exhilarating adventure to track her down, where Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship and of true love.
The following post is a review of the film only. You can read my review of the book on its own here or my comparison of the film to the book here.
Paper Towns is a light-hearted teen adventure that has a great sense of friendship and high school romance. It may not be deep or moving, but it’s all about having fun in your final days of high school, making the most of it with your friends, as you’re all at a point in your lives where everything is about to change quite drastically.
The end of high school is the end of an era and everything matters a great deal at this point. But with unwanted ends come new beginnings and, in a few months, you’ll all be starting new lives with new friends as you leave for different colleges anyway. Paper Towns is all about this moment of flux, and about finally doing what you should have done a long time ago.
With the release of The Fault In Our Stars last year, it’s hard not to compare the two films, as unfair as those comparisons will be. The problem is that the characters in The Fault In Our Stars had much bigger problems to deal with, making Paper Towns come across as the weaker of the two stories. Even though The Fault In Our Stars had stronger lead characters and an emotional premise, Paper Towns is in many ways more relatable and down-to-earth.
What Paper Towns does that The Fault In Our Stars doesn’t is to focus on friendship over love, exploring its characters on a more personal level. Green explores honest stereotypes in this realistic high school drama; it may not move you to tears, but there’s certainly a lot to take away from it, and a lot of fun to be had along the way.
The film, especially, focuses on the adventure and excitement of these final high school days, following a brilliantly cast bunch of characters to enjoy the journey with.
The performances from Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, most notably, are excellent, and it’s their chemistry that makes this film so enjoyable. I can’t believe how brilliant Delevingne was in this, and I really hope we see her in more films in the future.
Whilst I will go into all of the changes from the book to this film adaptation, what I did prefer about the film was the way it ended. When reading the book I didn’t particularly enjoy the last few chapters. Margo is moody and is annoyed with Q for trying to find her when that wasn’t what she intended at all. The film handles these final scenes much better, with a better emphasis on the film’s message: don’t judge somebody because of the role they fit into it, because even if you think you know somebody, you may be surprised at the different layers that one person can have.
Paper Towns makes a light-hearted afternoon watch. You won’t be left in awe by it, but you won’t necessarily be disappointed, either.