Paper Towns review – charming, engaging teen movie

John Green’s novel blossoms in a well-acted teen movie that rises above the usual nerdish caricatures

Paper Towns is based on a book by John Green, who wrote the recently filmed teenage-cancer heart-tugger The Fault in Our Stars. But Jake Schreier’s film is agreeably non-lachrymose. It’s about Quentin (Nat Wolff), a serious-minded high-school student whose childhood friend Margo has grown up to be the local avant-garde adventuress and enigmatic embodiment of intrepidity. She’s played by model and rising screen star Cara Delevingne, whose current profile is so far beyond mere It Girl that they haven’t yet invented an adequate pronoun. Adopting husky, knowing American inflections, she’s good – slyly knowing, and reasonably convincing as a high-schooler.

It’s in no way a reflection on Delevingne that the film is most distinctive when she’s not on screen – when Margo mysteriously vanishes, and Quentin and friends set out to follow the trail of clues that she’s left, including Woody Guthrie LP covers and annotated copies of Walt Whitman. Self-consciously literate as it might sound, Paper Towns blossoms into an engaging, freshly acted ensemble piece – a rare US teen movie that isn’t about caricatured nerds and dorks, and doesn’t treat its audience as dorks either. I found it quite charming – and I don’t normally do charming.

Watch the official trailer for Paper Towns

Contributor

Jonathan Romney

The GuardianTramp

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