PAPER Towns hit UK cinemas on August 17, Quays News entertainment reporter Nathan Salt’s been to watch it

The second film adaptation of a bestselling John Green book following the success of The Fault in our stars, Paper Towns surrounds a much less heartbreaking subject that dominated the other movie (I won’t give away spoilers if you are yet to see that one also!). In a nutshell, this film surrounds a senior in high school, Quentin Jacobsen (Nat Wolff), who is fascinated by the mystery and intrigue of his childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) to whom he has been wildly in love with since she moved in across the street. But Margo became popular, super attractive and that left Quentin admiring from afar.

Having grown apart during high school, Quentin is surprised one night after nine years of silence when Margo appears at his window asking him to partner her in what she promises to be ‘the best night of your life’. And then after a night of redemption for Margo she vanishes. Shaken from his comfort zone, ‘Q’ as he is known for large parts of the film, feels compelled to – along with friends – find Margo. Almost detective-esque, sleuth Q uses a variety of clues including maps, posters, records and literature to aid him in his investigation.

Whilst love is a key component of this teenage modern movie, the theme of friendship is also central with the story arc aligned around Q and his two friends Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams) with the three seniors coming to terms with moving away from each other for college. Silly accents and an ongoing joke surrounding Radar’s parents’ obsession with storing thousands of black santa’s in their home, the trio typify the male friendship. None of them want to show emotion as they all realise that these final few weeks are the last together – change is scary and it could be argued that this takes greater focus than Margo who is in the film physically a lot less.

Nat Wolff’s character Quentin is reminiscent of every high school guy who has been head over heels in love with someone who is in a wholly different social circle. His performance feels authentic with his tender glances and unyielding commitment to helping her on that final night before she disappears. That night was atypical behaviour for the generic, well-behaved, soon-to-be college student and yet Margo brings him to life in the early stages of the movie. It must also be noted the quite palpable chemistry between Wolff and Delevingne which was something that I personally was not expecting as I noted down the cast list before the screening. The model has a less than publicised background with perfuming and acting and this was a solid debut following a long-time focus on the modelling world. Mysterious, narcissistic and individual, Margo’s distaste at a normal life in a ‘paper town’ hinders her likeability with the audience largely rooting for the male protagonist in Q.

The film’s title surrounds the notion that mapmakers create false towns so that they can spot plagiarism from others. Metaphorically the film tries to illustrate what is real and authentic and what isn’t and also who has those qualities and who doesn’t. Set in an Orlando suburb, Margo describes ‘a paper town full of paper people’…

It may have split those across the social media sphere but Paper Towns follows the conventions of a teenage sweetheart rom-com-esque narrative and that remains as appealing as ever to audiences. And for all the cynics it must be said that this is a film with real charm – who would have thought I would have enjoyed sitting in a screening surrounded by teenage couples on dates as much as I did? Worth the cost of a ticket…go and see it yourself to determine who is right with their verdicts.

Rated: PG-13, for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity, all involving teens

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

By Nathan Salt
@NathSalt1

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