Sunday, 2 August 2015

Paper Towns Movie Review

Yesterday I popped off to the cinema all on my lonesome to watch the advance screening of Paper Towns which also had exclusive Q&A footage shown with it. I'd been sent a pair of guest tickets by Odeon months ago and have been saving it for this very moment! I did enjoy the film so this post will probably be me rambling on in a nonsensical way but if you happen to make sense of my views, then that's a bonus! Despite Cara Delevingne's awkward interview this week, the cinema was quite full and I do predict big things for this movie.
paper towns cinema ticket
Let's get things straight first - I absolutely detest everything to do with The Fault In Our Stars (both book and movie) for very good reasons and I still do. Nothing will magically change that and I am still not a John Green fan but do feel that Paper Towns has a very different ideology. I had read the book before but I will be honest and say that I didn't really 'get' it at the time (however I understand the true message now) so the only reason I was so excited for the film was purely because Cara was cast as the female protagonist. I will admit that -  and honestly, I really do think she held the film together. As someone who always appears so quirky and fearless, I feel like the role was suited so perfectly to her and I saw no problems with her acting either; considering she has such a distinct British accent, she does well to disguise it. Sure she might just seem like she's playing herself at times and there is no real challenging drama on her behalf but it's important to remember that we're seeing her through the eyes of Q the entire time - someone who has idolised her for years and really knows nothing about her life. She does appear like a 'paper girl', as Margo says herself in the film - but it's because that's how our male protagonist has fictionalised her to be thus how she's been constructed for us to see. As the audience/reader, we are constantly looking through the lens of Q and don't ever get to see the 'real' Margo. Perhaps the reason why the film ends with 'But that's Margo's story to tell' is because there's the chance of an upcoming sequel happening which will finally give us an insight into her true character. However, in this film she is intentionally portrayed as a mystery and Delevingne excels in conveying that. I absolutely love Margo's character and I think that's because I share the same values as her. She thinks it's the saddest thing in the world when Q thinks he'll finally be happy when he's 30 and married with kids - and so do I. Why not just be happy now? Margo is spontaneous and nonconforming to society - a lot of people say that she's an dislikeable character, but I personally thought she was great. Yes, not perfect (but that's the point!).

Moving on to the actual message of the film, I think it's a great one. Paper Towns is a story of 'what a treacherous thing [it is] to believe that a person is more than a person.' It's almost a cautionary tale of why we should never romanticise or idolise other human beings and create expectations of them in our heads. We will never know what it's like to see the world through anybody else's world's so we need to be aware that everything we see and discern is just our perception. Q is a teenager who has been obsessively in love with a girl called Margo ever since they were young - and I mean like super obsessive - he even calls her his miracle. However, the problem is that he doesn't actually know her. The  'myth of Margo Roth Spiegelman' is the hot topic of the school and there's a different rumour each day about what cool things she gets up to on her adventures. These versions of Margo that everybody sees and the one that Q falls in love with are entirely fictional. [SPOILER ALERT] When she runs away he believes all the clues that she leaves indicates that she wants him to come and find her, when really he couldn't be more wrong. I don't want to give too much away, but at the end I feel like Q did learn the ultimate lesson - that you can't live your entire life chasing a person who doesn't need you and expecting people to be anything but themselves. Not everybody who goes missing is lost and waiting to be found. Nobody is perfect and it's a bad idea to idolise the fictitious versions of other people that we create in our minds.

I'm pretty much rambling here but it's hard to explain unless you've read the book. I definitely feel like I wouldn't have enjoyed the film as much if I hadn't read it beforehand as the movie isn't as ambiguous. It's almost like a simplified version of events. If like me, you had so many questions left unanswered after reading the book (and hated having them) then I'd suggest you watch the film as it leaves out most of the 'deep' parts which make you second-guess yourself trying to find meanings in things. However, if you liked the depth of the book and the mystery of it then you might be a little annoyed at how dumbed-down the film is. Much of the heavy-symbolism and metaphors are left out. One of my favourite things about the film is the title. Margo refers to the town she lives in as a 'paper town full of paper people' - nobody cares about anything that's important. It's all flimsy and fake, not even hard enough to be made of plastic. This is partly the reason why she hates it so much. The second meaning of paper towns refers to entirely fictitious places put on maps by cartographers so that they could tell if someone illegally made a copy. This meaning is also important as I feel like it reflects the image Q had of Margo - the idolised view of her was entirely made up in his head but it seemed so real to him that he convinced himself it was true. I also like this one as these fake towns were essentially 'traps' and that links to when Margo writes 'You will go to the paper towns and you will never come back.' which I took as her meaning that all these people who conform to society and live their 'normal' lives have been tricked into thinking that's the only way to be happy. There are so many different meanings but it all fits together so perfectly when you watch it.

Overall, I feel like the true message of this film will be overlooked or missed by so many. They will probably see it as John Green advocating the idea of a teenage guy objectifying a girl and perpetuating the 'manic pixie dream girl' stereotype but I feel like he's actually criticising and making fun of that very notion. We're told the story from Q's viewpoint but ultimately he is proved wrong. I feel like Margo definitely comes out the winner in this story (in fact, she does that all the way through) and John Green is actually not-so-secretly making fun of how ridiculous teenage boys are. The entire film proves a point about how dangerous it is to objectify and idolise people by doing that very thing and having the characters learn from it.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I welcome everyone to discuss their own interpretations below! This is just the interpretation of the book that I feel the movie represents the most.

Have you seen Paper Towns? Let me know what you thought of it!


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