Adaptation Review: Paper Towns

There is much that goes into even thinking about how a book should be translated into film. I’ll probably write all about that later, famous last words.

For now, however, Paper Towns.

I read the book by John Green for the first time just last month, so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind; I also just got home from the theater where I saw the film. Convenient. Here are my many (profound) thoughts.

The film, as a film, was great. The book, as a film, was also great.

There will be some, many probably, who will pour over the film and complain that there were deviations from the book which made the film not good. I would strongly disagree with them. For a book like Paper Towns, where so much of the meat (meat, in this case, being character and plot development) of the book is written in summary, or in Quentin’s internal monologues, it would be nearly impossible to accurately depict it in its entirety. The plot points that were changed, or completely cut, from the book seemed to benefit the fast paced nature of the film. And I definitely don’t feel bad about it, seeing as John Green had a very active role in the making of the film, and these edits would not have happened without his approval.

The casting of this film was nearly perfect. Quentin, Radar, and Ben were magnificent. The actors didn’t look like 24 year olds trying to be high school boys, they really looked like high school boys. Verisimilitude isn’t just a tool for books, people. Their playful dynamic throughout the film was contagious, and their Pokemon a capella was just precious.

I could have done with a different MaRgo roth sPiegelman, though. Cara Delevingne, while extraordinarily unique and quirky in her own right, just wasn’t the right fit as Margo for me. Her acting was forced, and at times she seemed to be too aware of her movements and facial expressions; she is a model after all.

What I enjoyed most about the film were the subtle nods made to the book that only those who had read it would have picked up on. Quentin not wearing any pants under his graduation gown, young Margo’s mention of Seaworld in the beginning of the film, the glory of Ben’s keg-stand, and probably many others that I didn’t catch.

So yes, the ending of the film was much different than the book. The circumstances that made Q and the crew rush on their trip up to Agloe, NY were different, but the feeling of the film was the same as the book. At least for me.

The feeling that there are people in your life that punch your heart so hard you never forget the imprint they made. The feeling that you can adventure all you want at what you think will make you happy, never realizing that its the journey that makes it all worth while. Walt Whitman, man. He’s on to something. Well, he has been for a while.

Finally, ANSEL. The sneaky John Green and his inclination for surprising us. That little cameo made me literally gasp out loud and smile like a thirteen year old girl.

My recommendation: go see the film, and learn to let go of the details of a story and instead embrace how it makes you feel.

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