Magazine article Variety

Paper Towns

Magazine article Variety

Paper Towns

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

Paper Towns

DIRECTOR: Jake Schreier

STARRING: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne

The title of "Paper Towns" refers to a trick that cartographers use to keep their maps from being copied by competitors. But it also describes, in a less literal sense, that brand of teenage disillusionment where everything and everyone in life seems phony, stifling and two-dimensional. If it's authenticity these young adults seek, they could do far worse than this second film drawn from a John Green bestseller (after last year's hit "The Fault in Our Stars"): It may not subvert every cliche of the high-school romance genre, but director Jake Schreier's coming-of-age dramedy nonetheless pulses with moving and melancholy moments as it follows a 17-year-old who spends an unforgettable night with the girl of his dreams, then decides to pursue her when she suddenly leaves town the next day.

Although it shares several producers, a writing team (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber) and an actor (Nat Wolff) with Josh Boone's adaptation of "Fault in Our Stars," Schreier's film seems unlikely to match its predecessor's runaway commercial success. Which is a bit of a shame, insofar as "Paper Towns" turns out to be the better movie, populated by characters who are presented not as paragons of cancerriddled virtue, but rather as flawed, ordinary young individuals who are touchingly vulnerable to the pressures and anxieties of contemporary teenage life. That's especially true of Quentin Jacobson (Wolff), a high-school senior in Orlando, Fla. He's a good student, shy but not irredeemably awkward, and utterly disinterested in going to the prom, unlike his two best friends, Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams).

But Quentin is a romantic at heart, having nursed a longtime crush on his beautiful next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne), who appears at his bedroom window one evening and asks him to chauffeur her around the neighborhood while she takes care of some pressing business. Figuring what the hell, Quentin becomes Margo's accomplice over a long and crazy night of revenge against those friends who have betrayed her; their pranks leave Quentin feeling alive in a way he rarely has.

That Margo is something of a mystery becomes even more apparent the next day, when she runs away from home. …

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