Anyone searching for an enjoyable romantic “dramedy” (dramatic comedy) should go see Paper Towns. This movie that came out in July, and was based on a novel of the same title written by John Green.
The story is from the perspective of Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff), who goes by Q. He opens the movie by explaining that he believes everyone gets one miracle, and he got his when Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) moved across the street from him when they were young.
Quentin is instantly smitten with Margo due to her adventuring and enigmatic personality.
As they grow apart over the years, Q clings to and falls in love with the idea of Margo Roth Spiegelman, without ever realizing she is very different than the person he imagines her to be.
During a night near the end of their senior year of high school, Q spontaneously joins Margo in exacting revenge on people who have wronged her. After this night, Q believes they are now friends, and hopes to become more than Margo’s friend.
But when Margo doesn’t show up to school, Q finds out she ran away, as she has done many times before.
He begins to find clues that can only be meant for him, and he comes to the conclusion that Margo wants Q to find her. He goes on a hunt for the idea of a Margo Roth Spiegelman he has put on a pedestal.
During the search, there are many moments of laughter and friendship between Q and his friends. In the end, the main theme of the movie seems to be one of friendship, accepting reality, and knowing when to love and when to let go.
Overall, the movie is an entertaining, if slightly cliché, representation of teenage friendships and love based on idealizations.
However, the movie skips many parts in the book that contributed greatly to the complexity and intensity of the novel.
In the book, John Green focuses heavily on Margo and Q’s discovery of a man who had shot himself in the park, a scene that the movie briefly shows and never refers to again.
Green describes the fascination Margo has with the idea of death and the reasons behind committing suicide. She believes “all the strings inside him broke,” and that’s why he killed himself.
Later in the novel, when Margo runs away and leaves clues for Q that seem rather morbid, Q finds himself thinking that Margo must have committed suicide.
Throughout the search for Margo, Q must come to terms with the fact that everything might not be okay when he finds her.
This is quite different from Q in the movie. When he finds Margo he thinks she’ll love him and she’ll be exactly who he thought she was. Throughout the book, Q realizes Margo isn’t the same “Margo Roth Spiegelman” who he idolized, and she’s also not the same girl who was so popular with her friends.
The dark intensity of the novel isn’t captured well in the movie, and that is one of the main reasons why lovers of the novel are not as enamored with the cinematic representation.
The clichéd-nature of the movie takes away from the emotions audience members experienced when reading Green’s novel. However, if one is able to separate the book from the movie in their mind, it is easy to enjoy the fun summer movie that focuses on friendship.