Paper Towns: The young and mysterious journey of self-discovery

John Green’s second book, Paper Towns, gets a movie adaptation by the same name with Nat Wolff playing the role of Quentin Jacobsen and Cara Delevingne appearing as Margo Roth Spiegelman.

The movie explores the relationship of Quentin and Margo who remain best friends throughout childhood but drift away during high school. Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber, who jointly wrote the screenplay for The Fault in Our Stars, have written the screenplay for Paper Towns as well. Perhaps this is why viewers who have watched The Fault in Our Stars will find similarities in the philosophical issues discussed in Paper Towns. Although they are not the same, the tone of voice the characters use and their inclination towards finding deeper meaning to life indicate so.

Photo: IMDb

A twist occurs in the movie when Margo, who hasn’t been in touch with Quentin in a long time, asks him to accompany her on a road trip. However, what Quentin wants to accomplish through the road trip is for viewers to know, as it is through this adventure that the two characters go on a journey of self-discovery and get a glimpse of each other’s inner self.

Photo: IMDb

On a personal level, I like the way director Jake Schreier uses a natural environment for most of the scenes to increase the production value of the movie, along with the cast’s decent performance which gives viewers positive vibes. Though Schreier hasn’t directed many full-length movies, he does a good job with Paper Towns. Furthermore, there is simple yet energetic high school fun and the atmosphere brings the movie and its characters to life. The story does get a boost with Margo and Quentin’s relationship, as it is Margo who explains to him the meaning of ‘Paper Towns’.

Photo: IMDb

Moreover, viewers will even get a hint of the romantic chemistry between Quentin and Margo. However, before Quentin can openly express his feelings, Margo disappears. This creates another plot in the movie, where Quentin becomes the point of view by replacing Margo, and begins his adventurous hunt with a group of friends to find her.

Photo: IMDb

Even with Margo out of the picture after her disappearance, she remains a part of the plot as much as Quentin. This is because of the clues that Margo leaves behind. Though Paper Towns is a coming-of-age movie, developed on the lines of philosophy and mystery, the latter part of the movie shows Quentin developing into a person having a broader mental level after he fumbles on the deeper truth of life while finding Margo. Moreover, Wolff, who plays Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars, will surprise viewers with his acting skills.

Photo: IMDb

The opening parts of the movie, until the two characters are children, show how they remain best friends but social differences drift them apart as they grow up. However, their differences, highlighted in a subtle manner, show Margo growing up as a beauty queen at high school while Quentin becoming an introvert. For Quentin, Margo is nothing short of a fantasy, because he sees her as tough and courageous, the qualities which Quentin cannot experience because of his shy attitude.

However, Quentin and Margo’s relationship becomes stronger half way through the movie when they meet again in high school – the time when they are unaware of what waits for them beyond high school, therefore, every issue holds a deeper meaning for them.

Photo: IMDb

Though Paper Towns has a nice story, mystery builds up after Margo disappears and Quentin begins to hear rumours about her disappearance. The movie remains catchy until Margo’s character stays on screen. However, with Margo’s disappearance, the plot’s appeal slightly loses its grip but Wolff does hold the story together with, what the critics have been saying, his heartthrob looks.

Viewers will also find some melodrama in the movie, especially during the time when the two characters are minding their own lives during the high school era before Margo re-enters Quentin’s life, partly because the story does not highlight in detail the reasons for Margo and Quentin not remaining in touch for a long time. However, the characters seem realistic and keep the story moving forward while maintaining viewer’s interest.

Photo: IMDb

The ending parts of the movie show the feelings of a teenage soul, which is confused yet knows which path to take to find life’s answers. Moreover, the characters need someone to hold on to, yet they can journey alone if they are compelled to. At the end, the viewer’s get to see that their identities are hidden behind their personalities and during the time when Quentin is finding Margo, he is also discovering himself. However, viewers will be amazed to see what Quentin really finds in the end.

from The Express Tribune Blog


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