Book to Film Adaptations: Paper Towns

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I’m a little late to the game with this review as it’s already out on DVD but I recently bought it and figured it was about time we tried something a little different here at Page One. We do like to mix things up.

So before it was adapted for the big screen, Paper Towns was a book written by John Green who is also responsible for The Fault in Our Stars (also recently adapted starring Shailene Woodly and Ansel Elgort. If you haven’t seen it, find a way to.) and Looking for Alaska. For those of you who are yet to read anything by John Green, please do so now. I promise you won’t regret it.

From here on in things are going to get a little bit rambly because before I even get to the film I feel I need to explain some of my theories about the book.

I think Paper Towns is often misunderstood. It isn’t a love story even though the love story is kinda a big deal. But this isn’t a story about Margo and Quentin. This isn’t even a story about Margo even though she drives the story forward, I mean a key feature of plot is that she is missing and Quentin and the gang have to go look for her. I don’t even think this is a story about Quentin so ignore the fact he is the one telling it. This is a story about everyone. Everyone who has ever idealised someone or something so much so that you then proceeded to invent an entirely different scenario/world in your head without really realising it. So when you actually got to do this thing or meet this person, be friends with or perhaps even go out with them, it inevitably turns out to be nothing like you’ve imagined. The illusion completely shatters. You then realise they are just human, you are just human. Which leaves you a little sad but also a little wiser. For me at least, that is what Paper Towns is about. The moment you realise that the grass isn’t always greener. And that’s one of the reasons why I love John Green so much. His writing is all about the extraordinary but very ordinarily human things in life.

Now when you’re trying to translate this into film it doesn’t always work. The Fault in Our Stars did. Paper Towns eh, not so much. And I think it’s because the climax falls short for a lot of people. For me, it didn’t quite get the nuances of the book. I constantly felt like there was something missing. Of course there was, scenes, lines. Small things here and there that get cut because you have to condense a 300ish page book into a two hour slot. But it still didn’t quite capture the Paper Towns that I read, like other adaptations of books I have seen. Did anyone else feel the same way?

I don’t want to say too much more because I’ll have to start writing spoiler every other word but I will say I loved the little cameo appearance and Cara Delevingne was a perfect choice for Margo.

So yeah overall rating 3*, I recommend you see it.

 

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