Sunday, July 19, 2015

Movie Review: Paper Towns

Title: Paper Towns
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair
Director: Jake Schreier
Writers: John Green (author), Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (screenplay)
Released: 16 July 2015
Website: Paper Towns Movie

A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door. (summary from IMDb)

Having only read the book recently, I wondered if my enjoyment of this movie would be tempered by my making comparisons. I can't help but do so, if I remember the book clearly enough, but at the same time I'm often able to judge a movie for its own merits, rather than what changed between book to screen. I can say both about Paper Towns. Plenty of changes have been made, but the heart of the story remains, and I liked the movie as I liked the book.

The biggest changes are simply that Q's search for Margo has been compressed a whole lot and the timeline is altered slightly. I liked this as it allows the movie to focus more on Q's relationship with his friends. In fact, for me, the heart of the story shines brighter for it. Q's relationship with Ben and Radar is one of the things I enjoyed most about the book, and throughout the movie the authenticity and humour of their friendship resonates. The jokes are sometimes forced and cheesy, but it works. More so, the movie provides a better look at Ben's relationship with Lacey, and Radar's with Angela, as it's not hindered by the point of view being wholly Q's. This time around, Paper Towns isn't just about finding the lost 'miracle' girl to give Q his meaning, but about his realising that the most meaningful things have been right in front of him all along. I appreciate this message so much more. I definitely found the movie slightly more inspiring than the book.

An upside to all of this is that I like movie Margo! Gone is the selfish, immature brat that annoyed me so, and in her place simply a misunderstood girl searching for herself and her own meaning. This Margo I could sympathise for and connect with. I even appreciated her relationship with Q that tiny bit better. But not by much, honestly, because the downside to the movie changes is Q's feelings for Margo are even harder to swallow. I wasn't impressed by Q's obsession with Margo in the book, but at least in all his searching for her Green could also provide introspection. Still, with the focus and message shifted just enough, the movie makes up for it. I loved seeing the prank night and road trip brought to life on screen, and I certainly never expected to actually like Margo, let me tell you. An interesting side note though - a friend of mine also watched Paper Towns (but has never read the book) and he hated Margo. He describes her as I did book Margo, so here's a case of the book definitely impacting my experience watching the film.

I really appreciated the casting of Paper Towns. Cara Delevingne is the perfect Margo Roth Spiegelman and Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage and Jaz Sinclair are a funny, adorable and talented accompaniment. They were all exactly as I imagined their characters to be. These are young actors to watch for, especially Nat Wolff, who is fantastic as Q. I am definitely counting myself a fan of Wolff and look forward to watching what he does next. My favourite casting though was the gas station attendant. There's a surprise cameo that had me cracking up! I say surprise because I hadn't read about it, so for that reason I'm not saying anymore, so others may enjoy it too.

Paper Towns is a really well-put together film, with a great cast and story. It's not a completely faithful adaptation, but the movie is true to the book. If you're a fan of Paper Towns, I definitely recommend seeing the movie.



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  2. Very happy with the way this sweet film played out and I don't think John Green fans will be disappoint.