Paper Towns: Light, Airy and Ultimately Fluffy Coming-of-Age Film
Austin AbramsCara Delevingne...
Following the relative success of The Fault in Our Stars, American author, John Green, sees another of his books come to life on the big screen with the much more uneven Paper Towns. Turning from teen romance, to revenge, to road-trip thriller, the film certainly paces through the plot quickly – possibly too quickly – but it’s the performance of the leads – especially model, Cara Delevingne – that keeps things interesting.
Opposite Delevingne is Natt Wolff, who also starred in The Fault in Our Stars; if this is a coming-of-age story, then it’s his character’s story. The film opens with the main characters, Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen (Wolff) and Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne), finding a dead body as kids against the backdrop of Quentin developing feelings for Margo. We then flash forward to our leads in the run-up to their high school graduation and though they’ve drifted apart, it’s suggested that Quentin still very much has feelings for Margo. One night, Margo appears at Quentin’s window and lure’s him to help her take revenge against her cheating boyfriend and the friends who knew about his infidelity. That stretch of action has its own quirks and highlights, but the aforementioned thriller element of the film kicks in when Margo leaves town, leaving a trail of clues for Quentin to find her. It’s this part that very much confirms the film as a teen flick through and through – and this is its big problem.
Film critic Rebecca Keegan put forward a good argument when comparing it to possibly the greatest high school movie ever made, The Breakfast Club, pointing out that there’s something intangible that’s missing from Paper Towns; but that thing becomes all too clear half way through. It’s simply not as profound as it presents itself. Keegan goes on to say that The Breakfast Club lingers in your mind as you enter adulthood – when it comes to Paper Towns, however, that isn’t true, because it explores issues such as unrequited love, finding your path in the world and friendship in very predictable ways.
It’s saving graces, too, are somewhat superficial, but enjoyable nonetheless; the soundtrack, which feature music from Twin Shadow, Santigold, HAIM and Vampire Weekend among others; there’s a typically somber, indie tone to the humour and of course we have the rise of Cara Delevingne and Natt Wolff who both demonstrate what bright futures they have in Hollywood. Apart from that, this is not a film that stings, lasts or moves – it’s just a nice indie movie at the end of the day.