Quentin (Nat Wolff) has long been besotted by his neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne). But they have drifted apart - until one night when Margo climbs through Quentin's bedroom window, needing his car and his help on her mission to payback her cheating boyfriend. Quentin obliges and has the night of his life. But then Margo disappears and Quentin, together with his good friends Bud (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) plus Radar's girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and Bud's dreamgirl Lacey (Halston Sage), embark on a road trip to find her.
Review by Louise Keller:
Breaking through the comfort barrier is the thrust of this enjoyable coming of age film whose trajectory is a surprise. The screenwriting team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also adapted John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, have adapted his bestseller into a superb screenplay, filled with all the nuances of teenage longing, school friendships and a sense of wonder about the world. The two lead performances are superb: Nat Wolff as the impressionable protagonist and Cara Delevinge as the 'special' girl who lives opposite, who believes that sometimes you have to get lost before you find yourself.
After a brief prologue in which we learn of the close childhood friendship between Quentin (Wolff, resembling a young Adam Sandler) and Margo (Delevingne), we learn that they have drifted apart, although Q (as Margo calls him) has never stopped being infatuated by her. We get a clear picture of Quentin: he is a bit dorky and a genuine 'nice-guy' who hangs around with his pals Bud (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith). They get good grades, have fun and laugh together, but life is pretty predictable. That's where Margo comes in. Margo is the breath of fresh air that makes life sing.
The action starts in earnest when Margo climbs through Q's bedroom window one night, in search of an accomplice for her revenge pranks against her cheating boyfriend and complicit best friend. Q tags along; they end up in an empty skyscraper office at night looking down at the night-lights of Orlando, talking and dancing. It's a magical scene and one in which Margo expresses her contempt for the paper town below; with its paper houses and streets.
Margo's disappearance prompts Q to begin searching for her - knowing Margo's habit of leaving cryptic clues as to her whereabouts. It's a bit like treasure hunt and Q involves Bud and Radar; no-one knows exactly what they are looking for. There's a sub plot involving Radar and his gorgeous girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and another with Bud, his curvaceous fantasy girl Lacey (Halston Sage) and the upcoming prom, which is a big ticket on the calendar. The characters are all well drawn and I like all the extraneous facts like Radar's parents serious hobby of collecting Black Santa dolls. The payoff comes in the roadtrip that follows, when all the story strands come together.
Wolff, who starred in The Fault in Our Stars (as well as Palo Alto and Grandma) is terrific, bringing the same kind of easy charisma as did Logan Lerman in My One and Only and The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Delevigne is perfectly cast, as the enigmatic, idealist and passionate Margo, who believes that everything is ugly, close up.
The ending? Maybe not what you expect but probably better than you could hope for.
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PAPER TOWNS (M)
CAST: Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Nat Wolff, Cara Buono, Caitlin Carver, Austin Abrams
PRODUCER: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
DIRECTOR: Jake Schreier
SCRIPT: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (John Green, author)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Lanzenberg
EDITOR: Jacob Craycroft
MUSIC: Ryan Lott
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris L. SPellman
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 16, 2015