Paper Towns Review
Being probably the movie that surprised me the most with its quality, Paper Towns is a 2015 teen comedy drama film which is also a mystery. It is based on the John Green book of the same name and it stars Nat Wolff in the lead role.
It is about Quentin, a young man who spent his childhood being infatuated with his mysterious neighbor Margo. At the beginning of the film, she comes to his house for help. He accompanies her on her quest to humiliate the friends and boyfriend who betrayed her. After that event, she disappears. With a help from his loyal friends, he sets out on a road trip journey in order to find her following her clues. The story is simply fascinating and one of the most well-written and sophisticated teen movies probably of all time. It is so clearly and evidently split into three parts, the three-act structure has rarely been so noticeable. That is a problem a bit as it seems disjointed and the jarring shift of tone probably doesn’t help much as well. However, although it may seem to some that Paper Towns is three different movies, to me it did not end that way. I thought it connected quite well, despite how different the three acts are.
The first act is the most entertaining and the characters are wonderfully introduced. I love all the actions they did and it is so fun to watch. The second act is the most adventurous with a strong dash of mystery thrown in for good measure. The mystery aspect is very well realized and quite believable whereas the road trip does not seem cliched at all, despite being a genre convention. This is the part where the supporting characters and the humor shine the most. As for the third act, it is without a doubt the finest. Pure, hard-hitting, emotional drama takes place in front of the mystery and comedy here. And it is incredibly good!
I like the resolution and the whole last part as it is so unconventional and the opposite of cliche that it really was refreshing to see. And so brave and clever. But what takes it to the next level is its absolutely amazing sophistication, clever themes and above all, some incredibly powerful, truthful and observant quotes. This is not only relevant, but important and so realistic. It hit me personally as I connected to Margo’s character in her thinking so much. The speech in which she says that she wants to lead her own destiny instead of following conventions like marriage and job is so inspiring and downright real that it hit me on multiple levels and stayed in my thoughts afterwards.
The characters are phenomenal across the board as is the acting. Quentin is the most grounded character but his resolution is so realistic and important as well. His behavior may seem annoying to some, but he is a realistic teenager and I liked that a lot. Margo is absolutely amazing and the highlight here despite the protagonist’s more development and evident screen time. But that is the point. Her character is so well-written and just plain fascinating that such a short screen time did not hurt her at all. She is also an incredibly strong female character and refreshingly atypical. Lacey is so charming and likable. And her line where she states that she is more than just a pretty face is some powerful stuff as well. Now, Ben is evidently and even too overtly a goofy sidekick, but what is important is that he serves his purpose which means that he is funny, at times even hilarious, definitely bringing a lot of pathos and comic relief to the picture. Angela is okay for the time she got, but Marcus I did not like at all. He was too annoying and too nerdy in my opinion.
The acting is fantastic as I said. Nat Wolff is so surprisingly good and gives a grounded and respectable performance. Cara Delevingne is terrific of course, bringing a lot of charm and charisma to the table. And all the actors who portrayed Quentin’s friends did a really good job in their roles. The directing is also very good as is the pacing. The movie is incredibly smart, but also emotional and at times even heartbreaking. It made me smile and almost cry even. I also liked the score, but the tone is as I said too jarring and definitely was felt which is not a good thing. Humor is terrific with at times hilarious sequences. However, I think Paper Towns would have been better with more serious and less comedic approach and that small flaw as well as the jarring tonal shift is what makes this movie miss the highest rating in my book. But not by a long margin and that is astonishing that it ended being so unexpectedly good. It is not predictable whatsoever and the dialogue is incredibly clever. And comparing it to ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘, I would say that it is a much better film, though the aforementioned film is quite good. But this is a whole new level of quality exhibited.