Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff shine in “Paper Towns”

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cara Delevingne’s next epic adventure.

Paper Towns, based on the 2008 novel by John Green, is the story of Quentin Jacobsen (Nat Wolff) and his unrequited love for the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman ( Cara Delevingne).Ordinary guy Quentin (Nat Wolff) has ordinary ambitions as he and his two nerd besties wrap up the gauntlet of ceaseless discomfort that is high school.Cara Delevingne, a confident tangle of lanky limbs and messy hair, tattoos and ripped black jeans, arched her eyebrows and popped her eyes wide as she excitedly described her habit of filming her meteoric, globe-trotting rise. “Watching Lars Ulrich play a Metallica show from behind the drum kit!

The 109-minute movie “Paper Towns” all too often seems inert, even as it condenses clues to its core puzzle about an 18-year-old girl’s whereabouts.In the acknowledgments to his novel Paper Towns, John Green recognizes Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild as a “particularly helpful” book about disappearance. Quentin has forever pined for neighbour Margo (Cara Delevingne), but she is extraordinary: dangerous, weird, always having adventures, yet somehow in with the in crowd.

Nine years after their childhood friendship drifted apart, Margo climbs through Quentin’s window and convinces him to join her on a night of revenge against her cheating boyfriend and her friends who knew about it. Green is beloved as the author of “The Fault in Our Stars” about two teens with cancer who fall in love and try to live to the fullest despite the prospect of early death.

Days later, Quentin finds clues Margo left behind and heads on a road trip from Orlando to New York with his two friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair), and Margo’s best friend Lacey (Halston Sage). Despite its somewhat novel romantic-mystery structure, “Paper Towns” borrows from a number of sources, including dipping its ladle into the John Hughes wellspring (elements of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and others) and mixing ingredients from various road-trip movies into its cauldron. In “Paper Towns,” the character is described by her neighbourhood admirer as “arguably the most gorgeous creature God had ever created,” a girl “whose life is a series of unbelievably epic adventures.” Delevingne has been a professionally gorgeous model for Burberry and other brands, an angel for Victoria’s Secret and, most recently, the windswept cover girl of the July issue of Vogue. Much of its charm is owed to the supporting cast, including Austin Abrams and Justice Smith as the nerds and Halston Sage as the improbable dream girl.

Moreover, in Hollywood, where nearly every lead actor, male or female, is also a fashion model — often making far more money on commercial endorsements than cinema — models are regarded with unease, and often for good reason. Directed by Jake Schreier, Paper Towns finds Fault’s Nat Wolff upped to a lead role as the lovelorn Quentin Jacobsen, who has spent most of his life transfixed by the charismatic Margo (played by model Cara Delevingne, who – sorry, haters – is, for all intents and purposes, Margo), his best friend from the age of 10 until high school, when he was unceremoniously dropped once the caste system was sorted. That’s like showing up to a Cleveland Cavaliers game and watching Lebron James play in the first 3 minutes of the game, and the last 3 minutes of the game. She recalls running into fellow supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the Met Ball, shortly after she was cast in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” “She was like, ‘Well, I just kind of got offered it!'” Delevingne recalled on a May afternoon in the lobby of the Mercer Hotel in SoHo. “I love Rosie, but I was like, ‘I would bite someone’s head off to do that!'” In her tryout scene, Quentin (Q for short), the neighbour played by Nat Wolff, confesses that he has loved Margo for years, even though he has primarily observed her escapades from across the street. “You love me?” Margo answers. “You don’t even know me.” Schreier asked Delevingne to deliver that line, but then improvise the rest of the scenario as herself, and the actress’ knowing ad-libbed performance struck such a nerve that both she and Wolff left the audition crying. Already, Variety critic Justin Chang has raved that Delevingne is “the real find of the film” and that “on the evidence of her work here, this striking actress is here to stay.” Delevingne was raised in a privileged but hardly picture-perfect family in London.

But as he sets out to unravel the mystery of her escape, Quentin realizes that in order to find Margo he has to remove her from the pedestal and see her for who she really is. I don’t know if it’s an attempt to add emotional weight to scenes like the one where Radar tells Angela “I’m not afraid of you, I’m afraid of losing you.” WHAT? They deliver payback Margo style (silly vandalism and embarrassing pranks), and make it back home without being punched by the victims or collared by the police, but she doesn’t show up for school the next day. They also get some laugh lines in, as when nerd Radar (Smith) disputes Quentin’s assertion they have been to parties before (“If there’s a tuba there, it’s not a party.”). “Towns” treads a fine line between inspiration and contrivance, shakily at times, along similar “Fault” lines to Green’s previous adaptation. And to this effect, the innocent trio of Wolff, Abrams and Smith is the right combination of sweet and painfully awkward as they banter over video games and belt out the Pokémon theme song.

Her mother, Pandora, is working on a memoir about her long-term heroin addiction. “I went through so much therapy as a kid, and I hated it, and because you get so used to saying the same thing over and over again, it just becomes a story,” she said, adding later: “I always wanted to act, from when I was 4 years old. The problem, though, is that the mystery that was the book’s impetus is simply not present in its big-screen adaptation, snatching away all urgency and finding a wooden Quentin going through the motions. Her rise couldn’t have been more swift or seemingly exuberant, with Karl Lagerfeld calling Delevingne — known for making faces and sticking her tongue out — the “Charlie Chaplin of the fashion world.” Delevingne said the work “was killing my soul.” She developed acute psoriasis, which she attributed to stress and exhaustion. “It’s the lemon effect,” she said, shrugging. “I’ll pick you up, squeeze everything I can out of you and throw you away for the next one.” While modelling, she took an acting course in London with “this Russian man who was a student of a student of Stanislavsky, and it was basically therapy,” she said.

I don’t even want to get into how improbable it would be for Quentin to find ALL those clues that point to Margo’s location or how he got back to Orlando in time for prom on a Greyhound bus. As someone who just watched robots time travel in Terminator Genysis, the most improbable thing I’ve seen in film all year is Margo’s friend Lacey asking Ben to prom. Wolff (blind friend Isaac in “Fault”), who reads like a young Jonathan Silverman, and Delevingne play well enough off each other but don’t exactly set off fireworks. And stop trying to look pretty.'” Delevingne was so thrilled to record an audition for a gritty role in an adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel “London Fields” that she cried when she got the call.

Delevingne has booked her next lead in Luc Besson’s big-budget science fiction “Valerian” and has recently been playing the supervillain Enchantress in David Ayer’s DC Comics 2016 tent pole “Suicide Squad,” for which she has prepared by silently imagining ways to kill her friends. “I’ll be in a group of people, thinking as this evil, twisted woman, of people exploding, or cutting them up,” she said, curling her lip into a comical snarl, before breaking back into a grin. “It works.” With “Paper Towns,” her romantic life has become a matter of even more intense public scrutiny. Although the central relationship never ignites, the film’s greatest love seems to be for the very romance of teenage nights: staying out too late, making unwise decisions and doing things for both the last and first time. She has openly discussed her bisexuality, defended same-sex marriage and spoken about her relationship with musician Annie Clark, who goes by the stage name St. No movie has to be slavishly faithful to it source, and that’s not why “Paper Towns” (taking its title, in part, from a mapmaker’s trick designed to protect against copyright infringement) never takes flight. It fails to give moviegoers a robust portrait of Margo, even in all her confusion and uncertainty, and doesn’t fully explore the book’s themes and multiple metaphors about being connected and seeing others for who they are.

Delevingne, who said she found the protest flattering, although she saw “nothing malicious” in the article itself, said: “My sexuality is not a phase. There’s a scene where the kids make a stop at a gas station and run around like a bad episode of Supermarket Sweep, grabbing snacks while a Radar voice-over goes on and on about how much time they have.

I am who I am.” She said a major challenge of acting has been learning to block out her life’s many distractions. “Being in love helps, you know?” she said. “If you’re in love with someone, you can be with them like no one else is in the room. It’s like taking that feeling and turning it on so nothing else matters when you’re looking in another actor’s face.” Delevingne said she hoped to follow in the footsteps of Charlize Theron, who also began her career as a model. “People can put you in whatever box: model, whatever,” she said. “But if I just keep going and actually do it well, which I hope I can, then I hope people will give me more movies — and I’ll win an Oscar!”

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