A Second Look at ‘Paper Towns’

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Daire Walsh takes another look at Jake Schreier’s Paper Towns.

 

She may be known across the world as a fashion model, but with a number of projects currently in development, we can expect to see the film career of London native Cara Delevingne gathering pace over the next 12 months or so.

 

After making her big-screen debut as Princess Sorokina in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina in 2012, she also had a key role in The Face of an Angel, a psychological thriller from Michael Winterbottom, which was based on the real-life case of murder suspect Amanda Knox.

 

Later this year, she will reunite with Wright on Pan (an origin story centering on Peter Pan and Captain Hook), while in 2016, she will take on the role of Enchantress in David Ayer’s eagerly-anticipated DC Comics ensemble, Suicide Squad.

 

In terms of budget, Jake Schreier’s Paper Towns pales in comparison to both Pan and Suicide Squad, but considering the success that The Fault in Our Stars – which, like Paper Towns, was adapted from a novel by John Green – had from a similar-sized budget, there was always the potential for the film to reach a wide audience.

 

However, whereas The Fault in Our Stars arrived on screens in 2014 just two years after the publication of Green’s novel, Paper Towns has taken a total of seven years to make the same transition. This is somewhat suprising, as the film rights for the book were acquired in the same year as the book was published (2008), and when you consider the length of time it has taken for Green’s best-selling book to arrive in theatres, the core fanbase will be wondering if it was truly worth the wait.

 

Set in Orlando, Florida, Paper Towns focuses on Quentin “Q” Jacobsen (Nat Wolff), and his relationship with childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne), who moved into his neighbourhood at a young age.

 

After initially being inseparable, “Q” and Margo eventually drift apart (as she becomes more popular), until Margot arrives at his bedroom window one evening asking for his assistance as she seeks revenge for the betrayal she has suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, as well as some of her closest friends.

 

“Q” reluctantly helps her, but following a night filled with high-jinks, he is happy in the knowledge that he has managed to re-connect with the girl of his dreams. However, it is soon revealed that Margot has run away for the umpteenth time, and with the help of his best friends – Ben (Austin Abrams) and “Radar” (Justice Smith) – “Q” attempts to discover what has happened to her, and where she can be found.

 

While Shaileene Woodley was already established as an actress before appearing in The Fault in Our Stars (she was Oscar-nominated for her role in The Descendants), this had the potential of being a star-making turn for Delevingne.

 

Yet, despite being advertised as one of the leading stars of the film, Delevingne actually has precious little screen-time throughout the film. Indeed, much of the drama is driven by her absence from the story, and focuses more so on the close bond that “Q” and his friends enjoy.

 

This is, of course, consistent with the trajectory that the source novel takes, but it is actually Wolff (who also worked on the aforementioned The Fault in Our Stars) who is likely to gain the biggest plaudits in the long run.

 

It is difficult to find fault in the performances of the principle cast, and as the best friend of the much-discussed Margot, Halston Sage is a particular stand-out.

 

Unfortunately, although it is a film that has many fine ideas and intentions, Paper Towns never quite comes to life in the way that director Schreier (whose previous film, Robot & Frank, was highly-acclaimed) would have intended.

 

It does attempt to cast an analytic eye over the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but you are often left wondering why it is that “Q” finds Margot so desirable. That being said, the main issue the film faces is regaining momentum following an uneventful middle section.

 

During this juncture in the narrative, “Q” tries to decipher the enigmatic trails that Margot has left behind, which will ultimately end with a road trip to one of the eponymous Paper Towns.

 

This is when the film comes to life again, and with Sage and Jaz Sinclair’s Angela joining the three best friends on an exhausting journey across America, the influence of John Green becomes more evident.

 

There is also fun to be had in opening act, when “Q” and Margot embark on their adventure into the night, and even though it isn’t a comedy in the truest sense (or at least not a broad one), there are some well-judged laughs along the way.

 

In the end, however, the subject matter of Paper Towns simply isn’t as heavy as that of The Fault in Our Stars, and as a result, this is probably why it feels somewhat incidental and inconsequential, though not without merit.

 
 

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The Computer Clubhouse Reviews: Paper Towns

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Film Ireland are delighted to be involved in a mentorship programme in conjunction with The Computer Clubhouse.


The Computer Clubhouse is located in the heart of the liberties in Dublin and exists to provide young people with new skills, confidence and choices that are not otherwise available to them, helping them to succeed in their careers and lives. The Computer Clubhouse provides a safe and creative learning environment in multimedia technology for young people between the ages of 10 and 18. They are a non-profit organization and are part of a global network of 105 Clubhouses based on a best practice template for after-school learning.


Film Ireland is working with The Clubhouse to provide writing opportunities for young people under the guidance of mentors focusing on discussing and writing film reviews.

 

Below, Melissa Comerford and Aoife Comerford review Paper Towns

Paper Towns is about a teenage boy named Quentin (Nat Wolff) who’s hopelessly in love with Margo (Cara Delevigne), a girl who loves to explore and is a daredevil. Margo goes on a mission to prank her ex-friends after they betrayed her. After a night of adventure between Margo and Quentin, the boy who has always loved her from afar she disappears. Papers Towns is a mix of drama, romance and it’s also a bit of a thriller.

 

Nat Wolff portrayed his character as Quentin, with shyness and compassion, whereas Cara Delevigne, portrayed her character, Margo, with adventure, and excitement. My favourite character within the movie would have to be Ben (Austin Abrams). He was a bit overly excited and liked to envision himself as a ‘catch’ but I loved his sense of humour.

 

Overall I found Paper Towns to be an amazing film. It’s a great choice for anyone who loves drama, romance, a mystery, or even a thrill. Paper Towns will make you smile, awe, cry and laugh.
Five out of five stars.
Melissa Comerford
Paper Towns is an amazing and inspiring film. The story was written by John Green. Paper Towns isn’t your normal tacky movie; it’s full of life and passion.

 

One of the main characters is Margo Roth played by the amazing actress/model Cara Delevingne. Margo is a wacky and wild character who loves mysteries – they say that “she loved mysteries so much , she became one.” Margo asks”what’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable.” With her old best friend Quentin by her side they make a night to remember.

 

Quentin Jacobsen is played by the old Nickelodeon star Nat Wolff. He portrayed this character with so much courage and integrity. “Q” teaches you not to wait for things to happen and to take a chance. So he and a group of friends set off on a journey across America. Amongst them is one of my favourite characters, Ben. Ben was so funny and full of life and always seemed to add humour to a serious moment.

 

Overall I would give this film 5/5 stars. It’s amazing and deeply thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this film and would gladly see it again .
Aoife Comerford
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Review: Paper Towns

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DIR: Jake Schreier • WRI: John Green • PRO: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey • DOP: David Lanzenberg • ED: Jacob Craycroft • DES: Chris L. Spellman • MUS: Son Lux • CAST: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevigne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair

 

Ever since she moved in next door, Quentin (Nat Wolff) has had a crush on Margo (Cara Delevigne). As young kids they were inseparable, but as teenage awkwardness bit they drifted apart. He worked hard and became a bit of a nerd with his best buds Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), while she was the cool rebel, reading poetry and having adventures.

Quentin never shook that crush though, so with just days before the end of High School he can’t believe his luck when she appears at his bedroom window and wants him to join her for an “adventure”: getting revenge on her cheating boyfriend and her so-called friends who knew all about it.

Despite himself Quentin goes along with the late night hi-jinks, and then assures eye-rolling Ben and Radar that now, finally, things have changed – and he can’t wait to see her tomorrow.

But then she disappears. Her parents shrug it off – she’s run away before – but Quentin when Quentin finds what he thinks is a clue from her to him about where she’s gone, he decides he’s going to find her – with his best buds in tow of course, as well as Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and Lacey (Halston Sage), Margo’s best friend who really didn’t know about the betraying boyfriend stuff.

After finding more clues they end up in a mini-van on a long, long drive to upstate New York to find a “paper town” – a fake town mapmakers put in their work to expose illegal copyright – to see if Margo is there (and to make it back in time for the all-important Prom, naturally).

As you might imagine, we’re firmly in teenage/Young Adult-territory here, and if the poster seems somehow reminiscent of last year’s The Fault in Our Stars, that’s because this is also based on a book by the same writer, John Green. More than that, Wolff played the amusing blind friend Issac in The Fault… (and keep an eye out for an uncredited cameo by Ansel Elgort here: he was the heartthrob lead in that film too).

As such we’re getting lots of soft-shuffle dance music here, very little swearing or nastiness, almost no danger, an astonishing lack of cell phones (these teens were on a 26-hour road trip and did nothing but talk/look at the scenery? Right.) and other logic problems such as how on earth they all managed to reassure their parents – who never called them once to check up – that this folly/road trip was nothing to worry about.

But logic is not what this story is about. It’s about teenagers, their friends, their loves, and learning how people can be more than they seem, and about the decisions you have to make when you’re growing up.

It has its requisite heartwarming and amusing moments (the three lads seem like real mates and have a great rapport), and though it’s rather overlong and the road trip starts late (with Lacey and especially Angela’s presence seeming rather forced), if you’ve just left school and are about to start college/university, it’s bound to touch a chord – and even if that was a long time ago it will probably trigger a memory or two as well.

James Bartlett

12A (See IFCO for details)
108 minutes

Paper Towns is released 21st August 2015

Paper Towns – Official Website

 

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