There are two types of people. People who like The Fault In Our Stars and people who don't like The Fault In Our Stars. Both groups have sufficient arguments for each. I belong to the first group. Except I don't just like that movie. I love it. Too much for a male teenager, as a matter of fact. I've read the book and I've seen the movie three times, each time getting me pretty damn emotional. I've also read the Paper Towns book, and I loved that as well. This film had a lot to live up to, and did it succeed? Damn right it did.
Based on yet another book by John Green, the film follows the story of Quentin (Nat Wolff), also known as Q. He's living out his final weeks of high school with his two best friends, Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams). As a kid, Quentin was very close to his neighbour, Margo (Cara Delevingne), but as they got older the two of them grew further and further apart. That is until one night when she comes knocking on his window, asking him to help her out with a revenge plot against her closest friends, who have recently betrayed her in what she thinks is an unforgivable way. The two embark on a night of mischief, until the following morning when Q finds out that Margo has disappeared. Q soon begins to notice clues that have been left for him, leading him on a mission to find Margo and bring her back home.
When it comes to Paper Towns, I feel as though it'll reach a much broader audience than The Fault In Our Stars did. This film will bring back the audience of that movie, but it'll also get the people who didn't like that movie to come and take a peek, and I think they'll like what they see. The complains people had with that movie seem to be gone, replacing what some people described as a manipulative narrative (I personally disagree) with an honest and charming one. This film, while not as good, will reach a larger audience, and I'm okay with that.
Like most John Green books, this film speaks on a personal and relatable level, especially to people of my age. It's a truthful tale that leaves all the bullshit at the door. I'm not saying that this film is 100% believable, an eleven year old breaking into SeaWorld is a bit ridiculous, but I am saying that it's grounded and plays out how it needs to play out, without having too many hiccups. The film is really likeable as well, and I can't emphasise that enough. The film is far from cynical, proving it to be a worthwhile experience full of laughs and heart.
The film has so many things going on, yet it's all told through a small and intricate story. The premise of this movie appears to be fairly basic, a simple mystery story, but it has a lot to say, and it says all these things without throwing them into your face. It discusses friendship and love and being a teenager and how one should live their life and countless other things and it really hits hard. It was a complicated book to adapt and the film was able to tell everything it needed to tell without loosing anything the book was trying to say.
What takes centre stage, however, are the performances. The directing and the writing and the cinematography are all sublime, but it's the actors that make the movie. While all the performances are great, Nat Wolff is absolutely phenomenal as Q, although this is to be expected when he's starring in a movie. He's always great, and Paper Towns may just be his best performance yet. Then there's Cara Delevingne, who's in her first main role. While overall her performance is also excellent, there's still a few moments that come across slightly flat. But as a whole she manages to impress.
I always found the ending of the Paper Towns book to be fairly abrupt, everything building up to a finale that's not necessarily bad, but just rushed. When it comes to the movie, they change things up ever so slightly, drawing out the ending a bit more and making it one of the best parts of the movie. I'm having a hard time comparing this film to the book as I love both of them so much. Which one I prefer remains to be seen. I guess I'll have to go see the movie again. That's never a bad thing.
To sum up, Paper Towns manages to hold its ground when compared to the success of The Fault In Our Stars. It's honest, touching, unbelievably likeable and held together by some phenomenal performances. They even manage to fix the abrupt ending of the book.