Paper Towns (2015)

Paper Towns (2015)
  • Time: 113 min
  • Genre: Drama | Mystery | Romance
  • Director: Jake Schreier
  • Cast: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Cara Buono, Austin Abrams


Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green, Paper Towns is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo, who loved mysteries so much she became one. 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 quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship – and true love.


  • “It’s a paper town. Paper houses and paper streets. And the people too. I’ve lived here 11 years and I’ve never come across anyone that cares about anything that matters.” Thus spoke Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne), the night before she disappears.

    Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff) has been in love with Margo since she and her family moved in across the street. As kids, they were unlikely friends but drifted apart as they grew older and she became more popular. Margo has always been special, her life a series of epic adventures, each one more unbelievable than the last. So when Margo climbs into his bedroom window one night and asks him to help her “right some wrongs and wrong some rights,” Quentin hesitates but jumps at what he believes is his second chance to connect with Margo.

    They set off into the night, Margo intent on exacting revenge on her high-school boyfriend, who has been cheating on her with one of her best friends. “We bring rain down on our enemies,” she proclaims (Margo is prone to such exclamations when not uttering Yoda-like words of advice) before taking a picture of her naked ex fleeing a house, leaving a dead catfish in her cheating friend’s basement, and covering a car in Saran Wrap. Each deed of retribution is marked with a note that features Margo’s penchant for random capitalisation.

    Viewers may feel otherwise but Quentin is enlivened by her pranks and, more importantly, by sharing the night with his longtime crush. “Will things be different tomorrow?” he wonders when he drops her back home. Yes, Quentin, for tomorrow Margo Roth Spiegelman will vanish without a trace. For all her popularity, very few people seem concerned about her absence. Rumours abound – she’s gone off to Iceland, she’s signed with a record label, and so on because that is the kind of thing that a girl like Margo Roth Spiegelman would do. Her parents couldn’t be more indifferent – Margo has run away many times before, her mother tells the police, she’ll come back when she runs out of money or when people stop talking about her.

    Quentin, however, believes that Margo wants to be found and, when he discovers what seem to be clues she left behind, that he is the one meant to find her. He enlists the help of his best friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) to decode the clues and the trio, along with Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and popular girl Lacey (Halston Sage), set off on a road trip to a real-life paper town where Margo may have put down roots. (The film’s title refers to fictional towns mapmakers use to prevent copyright infringement.) For his companions, the road trip is a chance at one last adventure before college life beckons. For Quentin, it’s another opportunity to enable his obsession.

    Based on John Green’s pre-The Fault in Our Stars novel, Paper Towns is part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part road trip, and part riff on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Of course, Quentin isn’t chasing Margo but rather his dream of Margo which is to say nothing. That Margo does not exist. Margo exists as mere projection, a paper girl for others to contort to their imaginations. How and what one imagines says much about the person doing the imagining, but what exactly does it reveal about Quentin?

    Not much, to be Frank, other than he must truly be blinded by his feelings for Margo to overlook how grating, dismissive, and condescending she can be. Delevingne is filled the brim with natural charisma, but the mystery of Margo is boring at best and pointless at worst. Her whimsy – let me do this just because – feels so forced and guileful that it seems symptomatic of a pre-existing mental imbalance. Margo is the device to immobilise Quentin to live life to the fullest, to find himself by getting lost. Wolff almost makes you believe in his character’s dawning realisation that it is “a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” The rest is plain blarney.

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  • “Marriage, children, career. Then you will be happy. Is that what you’re saying?”

    I like to watch a feel-good college movie once and a while, with its peculiar weirdos and goofy situations. Although no movie will ever surpass “The Breakfast Club”. And surely when it has additional similarities with “Serendipity”, one of my favorite teenage love chick flicks ever made, it can’t get any better. OK, it’s a collection of known clich├ęs used in all kinds of situations and eventually it’s not that big of a deal. Mainly it’s about the close friendship between some guys who don’t even belong to the club of the most popular students. They’re all off to another university scattered over the US. And most important there’s the quest they undertake together to find the childhood love of one of them. A special and mysterious young girl whose life appears to be one big adventure.

    My favorite character was Austin Abrams as the loony Ben, who thinks Q’s mother is an incredibly attractive woman and there’s nothing he rather would do than spend some time with her in a bathtub. He’s a sperm cell on two legs whose hormones repeatedly go bezerk whenever there’s a C-cup to admire in the neighborhood. Radar (Justice Smith) is the sober, reserved member of the gang who does everything according to the rules. He even wants to postpone the act until prom night, because it should be something special. His parody of an Italian is the only moment he doesn’t stick to those rules. And Quentin (Nat Wolff) is the main character who after a nightly adventure with Margo (Cara Delevingne) comes to the conclusion that he must do his utter best to win her heart forever. He even travels to a ghost town on paper.

    You might say all elements are present for a typical teen movie full of romance. Initially, this is also the core of the story. However it comes with an unprecedented twist as the story unfolds. The mysterious Margo initiates an adventurous quest. A search Quentin starts together with his two closest friends with clues left behind by Margo as a main guidance. What we get is an entertaining road movie in which the close relationship between the three schoolmates gets all the attention. A mix of good old camaraderie and melancholic musings. And this peppered with funny dialogs. The end result is both surprising and original, when you take other teen films into consideration. To be honest it’s more realistic and it’s an attempt to break the enchanting of teenage love.

    The three main characters form a tight group and interact in a natural way. Three close friends who know each other thoroughly. Each of them deliver some solid acting with Austin Abrams being the most successful one. Wolff looked a bit wimpy and dryly but was convincing enough as the key figure. Delevingne had a mysterious appearance which was necessary for her part. On the whole, this was definitely not a boring film, but I couldn’t shake of the impression that it all went ahead rather leisurely. What remains is an unpredictable search for the girl Q is in love with since his childhood. However, I am sure many young people also have undertaken such a quest in their own way.

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