Paper Towns – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

paper townsPaper Towns – 3/5 – Coming of age tales (outside Indies) are always ones I enjoy watching.  When it comes to these kinds of films; it is the grounded sensation you get with the characters that makes them go.  You get to watch someone (from any age, background of setting) grow in some aspect of life and reach a point of fruition.  There is something tender but wholesome in these stories.  Paper Towns is another one of those ‘coming of age’ tales that gives you that feeling.  On top of that typical growth, we get a journey like tale.  For all the formidable things that happen, it does fall into the trap of redundant clichés.  Even when the film is disjointed; Paper Towns does give you a tale that is warming to the heart.

Premise:  After one last night; Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears.  Through a drive to cease the moment; Quentin embarks on a journey that will leave him knowing that might be worthy memory for a lifetime.

In the main leads we have as followed:

Nat Wolff as Quentin

Cara Delevingne as Margo

These two do a great job in providing individualistic characters within a common setting.  Set in the backdrop of high school; we get to watch as these two individuals start to embark on different paths.  Nat Wolff provides a methodical approach to the character of Quentin.  He is the common ‘smart’ guy you find in any high school.  Focused and never leaving his comfort zone, it is a leveled out approach that is graceful but familiar.  His personality is grounded within the common social norms, but there is a building of wanting to break out because of his deep love for Margo.  This helps stage something different in the character, a startling thread that starts the connection between him and her.  This dynamic that builds comes from Quentin’s interaction and ‘purpose like’ drive for the other character, Margo.  As Margo, Cara Delevingne brings out a very contrasting kind of personality.  She is a free spirited person, driven by the moment.  She always seeks something beyond her boundaries, trying to live and find something new.  This kind of personality helps drive that ‘black/white’ dynamic; providing a path of paralleling growth.  It is in that contrast that you sense their relationship, creating something that is original but refreshing.  You see reasons in their actions, but understand why they must travel on a particular journey to find who they are.  For all the good that these two bring to the table, the secondary cast is the complete opposite.  The other characters fall into the common archetypes found in any general coming of age styled film.  They are one dimensional and predictable.  These other characters become very distracting from the overarching story.  This dulls the characterization of the film’s purpose, creating a very hollow sensation at times.

The direction of the film moves along the typical setup of a coming of age story:

First act – An introduction to the main/secondary characters of the story.  Character’s purpose is explained while an exposition of the theme and tone of the film unfold.

Second Act – Chronicles of plot development begin.  A moving of character’s purpose (situation A) that leads to secondary reasoning of growth (situation B).  Repetition of this method combined with a ‘journey/quest’ like progression (situation C).

Third Act – A climax that embarks on a revelation of truths.  Overarching themes come to a conclusion; an epilogue that leads to a ‘full circle’ fulfillment.

The direction doesn’t sway from this common outline.  Each act mimics this within the characters of Quentin and Margo; creating a path that is enjoyable but riveting.  There’s many recognizable themes that develop (Teenage growth, epiphany like journey and moments); but it’s the two characters’ genuine tale that you become engrossed in.  When we meet Quentin and Margo; they are estranged neighbors.  We get a little exposition of their back story before moving into the present day.  Staged in the common ‘last days’ of high school; we see that circumstance drives these two individuals for one last night of ‘fun’ before Margo disappears.  From here, the commonalities of the themes are thrown in an ambiguous loop.  This creates a sensation that’s rooted within generalization but produces a grip of endearment four the journey ahead.  You see there is driven aspect towards ‘ceasing the moment’; something both of them must find in themselves; no matter if its clues left by Margo or Quentin going out of his comfort zone.  As the film moves into that ‘journey’; the linearity of the film becomes redundant.  Even so, this helps keep the pace steady.  The film’s ‘slow burn’ method helps bring out something enjoyable for the main characters, but also shines a limelight on the unneeded secondary characters.  What this does is fragment the main story.  These subplots drive a wedge into the experience; creating that disjointed feeling.  The side stories hinder the overall progression, taking you away from the purpose, themes and the cohesion of the ‘coming of age’ method.  You see a slight reason why things happen, but the focus should have never detoured from the main course.  It causes the film to become an predictable display of teenage angst and young adult melodrama.  It turns off the audience at times, but the film doesn’t stray for too long. When the direction refocuses; the lens is brought back upon the journey of Quentin as he searches for the whereabouts of Margo.  That journey helps create a fragile sense of characterization, providing a real mirror of purpose on what it means to be young, driven and free.   Living that moment hedges within their minds, but it also scares them.  That frightful mentality is what helps open the door to that pure experience, while also providing something enthralling in the progression.  Once the journey comes to its climax, we get to see how the crossroads of particular moments help bring inner peace and reality to the forefront.  There is a learning experience to be had for Quentin, but it is one that leaves him knowing that it is ok to live and be someone other than what is expected.  The epilogue is a soothing of everything.  This helps bring the film around to a fitting conclusion, even when it was drawn out by the unwanted subplots.

The visuals are built on the common aesthetics of everyday life.  The settings of the hometown (Orlando), the road trip to New York and small town pit stops help create something grounded in reality.  This also envelopes within the themes; creating a situation that is relative to everyone.  There isn’t anything ‘unnatural’; leaving the film to be as pure as it can be to the eyes.  The score breathes life into the overall entertainment; creating that feeling of ‘living in the moment’.  The music is subtle but arousing; built upon the flavor of modern soundtracks and common powerful background noise.  This adds a unique flavor; keep the films emotions in an even flow.
Paper Towns is an enjoyable film; but does lack that amazing experience.  This could have been an unforgettable tale, but it falls into the trap of redundant clichés that bring the films purpose to a halt (at times).  If you’re a fan of coming of age films or want a movie to rent for the family; this is one that would keep you entertained.  It isn’t great, but it is still a good story of familiar tropes.

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