Paper Towns (2015)


One thing I loved about “Paper Towns” is that it’s not your typical romance. Deep down it’s about a man chasing the love of his life, but it’s more so about the brevity of life, and how we can often lose our paths chasing something that might not be there. While “Paper Towns” is no masterpiece of the sub-genre of young adult adaptations, it is still a very pleasant and complex coming of age drama that packs a universal message that could be absorbed by pretty much anyone reaching a big change in their lives. In the midst of all the ballyhoo about co-star Cara Delevingne, “Paper Towns” went sadly unnoticed through all the gossip which is a shame since it’s a drama that deserves to be appreciated if only for its subtly and quiet charm.

Cara Delevingne plays Margo, the epitome of the small town dream girl who has spent most of her life searching for a purpose. Per “Five Easy Pieces,” Margo has lived a life of privilege and good fortune, but seeks something so much more fulfilling. After a brief friendship with neighbor Quentin, she drifts apart for some odd years living on as the love of his life. One night she appears at his window begging for his help and encourages him to go on an overnight adventure which involves her pulling devious pranks on her best friend and boyfriend she discovered cheated on her. After a seemingly perfect night of rekindling their friendship, Quentin is surprised to learn that Margo never showed up to school and has officially gone missing. Though her parents chalk her disappearance to more of her flights of fancy, Quentin becomes convinced Margo has left him a trail to follow leading to her.

“Paper Towns” works as a mystery that garnered a thick undercurrent of tragedy and sadness. Nat Wolff gives an excellent and understated performance as the mild mannered Quentin who realizes his life isn’t exactly how he wanted it, and is convinced Margo will complete picture of a happy ending. “Paper Towns” keeps the mystery considerably thick and light hearted, as the search for Margo becomes something of a spiritual quest for Quentin. The story then transforms in to a very charming road trip adventure, where Quentin begins to wonder if Margo is merely testing him, or is begging for him to follow her across country. Wolff is underrated as the wide eyed Quentin who mostly sticks to what is safe in life, and craves some sense of danger when Margo suddenly disappears. Through his quest for her, we’re introduced to a slew of likable characters all experiencing a major change in their lives.

This includes his two awkward childhood friends, and Margo’s best friend who is something of a lost soul herself. “Paper Towns” plays with the perceptions of others and ourselves, as we meet a group of characters that have been pegged as one type for years, and eventually break free from their pigeon holes to show they’re capable of so much more. Delevingne is mostly serviceable as the hard to peg Margo, while Wolff, and his co-stars pretty much keep the film afloat with their down to Earth performances. “Paper Towns” is a worthwhile drama that makes a powerful statement about our ability to lose sight of the important aspects of our lives, as well as the hazards of chasing fantasies.