Paper Towns, directed by Jake Schreier
Quick thoughts: Teen-drama, a pretty close adaptation of the novel by John Green with a great OST and a good cast, the coming-of-age film has a nice balance of humour, drama and a hint of mystery.
Cast: Nat Wolff (Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen), Cara Delevingne (Margo Roth Spiegalman, Halston Sage (Lacey Pemberton), Jaz Sinclair (Angela), Justice Smith (Marcus ‘Radar’ Lincoln), Austin Abrams (Ben Starling)
Opens: July 16th (NZ)
Because this review comes from someone who’s read the book, know that there will be spoilers.
Part mystery, part coming-of-age and road film wrapped in a teen-drama with witty retorts and a pretty realistic outlook, Paper Towns doesn’t try to be too many things at once. Although the Paper Towns book took me a little longer than The Fault In Our Stars to get into, it gave me something TFIOS did not- a slice of life storyline about somewhat ordinary, (let’s contextualise this) middle-class American, teenagers. The film adaptation was nicely done, and it stayed pretty true to the book.
Margo’s character was tweaked, and I think I liked the tweaking. She was less wordy in the film version, although it dawned on me why I didn’t like Paper Towns as much as I did John Green’s other work- I couldn’t quite put my finger on it while reading the book but it occurred to me during the movie that Margo was a very selfish character. But that is also so realistic, because what teenager isn’t ego-centric? Although, not every teenager will just disappear for days on end.
It isn’t a groundbreaking film but it’s a good flick to catch.
I liked the pacing of the film, even though it slowed a bit towards the middle- but most films do. The characters were well portrayed by their actors, Wolff made a good lead as Q, the boy-next-door who needs to learn how to let loose a little and Delevingne was every bit the mysterious Margo. More so in the film than in the book. Ben was just as annoying in the film as he was on the page, although Abrams made him less grating than I was expecting. I liked Radar, the deadpan way in which Smith played the character was understated. Sage was adequate as the like-me-for-me-not-my-looks-please hot (but cool because smart and secretly nerdy) girl. And Sinclair as Angela was nice, the character itself didn’t stand out but the cast worked well together.
The ending was good, every bit as anticlimactic as the ending in the book, and I’m glad that it didn’t differ. I can’t say the storyline is too realistic, but there are aspects of realism present that I appreciated. Both the book and film are about letting go of certain ideals about things, like shallow fantasies about a person you’ve never spoken to before. Also, learn to enjoy life now. Don’t wait for everything to go according to plan before you can start enjoying your life.
Some differences from the book just quickly off the top of my head:
Radar’s not bespectacled in the book- he’s supposed to be taller than Q and have contact lenses and his computer nerdiness comes out in his behaviour notsomuch his outwardly appearance. In the film there’s no mention of Radar’s omnictionary fixing obsession- but he does use it.
Book Margo had 11 things she wanted to do, while Movie Margo only had nine. Movie Margo accompanied Q into the store to buy the supplies, book Margo sat in the car and gave Q the list.
If I try to list out all the differences I’d never finish this review, however despite the amount of differences- none of which were deal breakers for me- the film was a good yarn.