Sunday, 23 August 2015

Paper Towns (2015) (Review)


I jumped on the Cara Delevingne bandwagon very early. Her charm, wit and sarcasm immediately grabbed my attention and support in a similar way Jennifer Lawrence did back in 2012. Revitalising British humour in a way that may be lost to our American companions, in an all too infamous interview that went viral earlier this month, made her even more likeable and engaging. In fact, if it wasn't for this exposure, I probably wouldn't have found myself on a Sunday morning watching her first proper acting debut outing - Paper Towns.

'The Fault In Our Stars' author John Green translates his own source material to the big screen for the second time, with an arguably smaller following and lesser exposed cast, but produces a film that is similarly sized in heart and emotion. After growing up together and then drifting apart, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne) breaks into Quentin 'Q' Jacobsen's (Nat Wolff) bedroom as they approach their final days of high school and encourages him to live free and join her on a revenge-fuelled night of mischief and havoc. Reigniting a spark that faded as they grew up on very different paths, despite their geographic closeness, Q believes his future with Margo will finally be a good one. But when she disappears without warning, Q takes his friends on a journey of rediscovering her and learning a lot about himself on the way.

And that's where the problem lies. Delevingne is the film's cream of the crop, bringing to life an efficacious and enigmatic character with a cogent performance that could have very easily slipped into being melodramatic.  Her ability to walk the fine line, yet create a compelling and captivating performance in what I consider her first major debut, is done with poise and understanding to become the film's biggest asset. So when she disappears after this film's first third, I find myself constantly waiting for her reappearance to enlighten other conceited supporting characters who aren't really that likeable. A brief appearance in the middle of the film ties me over until the film's climax, but I do not need the extra padding of teenager's constantly talking about sex, love and prom, when I am so entangled in the story of Margo and Q - the lost and the found.

Let me take this time to compliment Nat Wolff's portrayal of the central male character. Whilst he may be overshadowed when he shares the screen with Miss Delevingne - who have created a chemistry that must be applauded - he is given plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent elsewhere, playing what could have resulted in a one-dimensional, love-struck and obsessive teenager well. The supporting cast do handle what I consider to be only tolerable character throughout the film's 107 minute run, but seldom offer anything more than support to the ongoing narrative, occasionally getting in the way, actually. Q's friend Ben (Austin Adams) is often called on to offer humorous interludes, but it's very 50-50 on whether you actually laugh. I'll put that down to the writing, opposed to the acting. Or maybe it's British people not understand American humour.



'Paper Towns' offers an emotionally abundant story of finding oneself as you mature and progress, with the themes of endings and beginnings laced into the structure of the film from the very beginning, all the way to the end. The likeable leads bounce off each other well - even if one outshines the other - and even when the story loses its way and meaning in the middle, a poignant ending left me with a smile and need for another future viewing. Whilst I do not fit the female-orientated demographic for the film, I can appreciate what they have attempted to do with the film and congratulate its heart and balance for achieving as such, the majority of the time.

Summary: Emotionally-driven and featuring a breakout performance from Cara Delevingne, Paper Towns is successful in reaching its demographic in terms of reliability and resonance, but a victim to its uneven source material and plot.

Highlight: Cara Delevingne. Have I not said that enough? The ending's wonderful and poignant too and John Green should be commended on offering something a little different from the usual 'happy ever after'. I also discover that I love a good montage/flashback, set slightly in slow-motion, to emphasise the point I'm needing to be emotional.

(7.5/10)


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