Paper Towns missing a big emotional hook

Paper Towns with Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne.
Paper Towns with Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne.

Paper Towns (12A, 116 mins) - Drama/Romance. Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams. Director: Jake Schreier.

Buoyed by the success of superior teen weepie The Fault In Our Stars, based on the book by John Green, scriptwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber attempt to recreate the magic with this faithful adaptation of Green’s bittersweet third novel.

Paper Towns deals with similar themes of alienation and sexual awakening from the perspective of peer-pressured teenagers, whose existence hinges on finding a date for the end-of-year prom.

Director Jake Schreier sensitively and earnestly navigates these turbulent waters, eliciting solid performances from a young cast including leading man Nat Wolff, who played blind best friend Isaac in The Fault In Our Stars.

In the absence of a dramatic hook like terminal illness, Schreier’s film sometimes is missing a big emotional crescendo.

However, there’s a refreshing refusal to succumb to sentimentality when the going gets tough and the script doesn’t polish the characters’ rough edges.

Cara Delevingne is a puckish, cynical foil to Wolff’s naivete, and Austin Abrams and Justice Smith banter effectively as the comic relief.

Young hearts run free throughout to a soundtrack of indie pop and rock.