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Paper Towns

Michael Tackett

Paper Towns hits theaters today, and it's a big deal for several reasons. It's the big-screen follow-up of sorts to John Green's first blockbuster novel-turned-movie The Fault in Our Stars, and perhaps more importantly, it's Cara Delevingne's first major movie role—unless you count that fake Amanda Knox drama, which we don't because seriously who saw that?

Delevingne is no stranger to the camera, of course. She made a modeling name for herself as the face of the Burberry campaign and has been seen on the runways of designers from Victoria's Secret to Fendi. And then there's the fact that she has almost 16 million Instagram followers. Needless to say, she's not exactly a newcomer—and when Paper Towns costar Nat Wolff admitted he'd never heard of her before filming started, he was probably one of a very small group. 

All this doesn't mean that she'll be a natural actress, however. I think we can all agree our nation is still healing from Kate Upton's turn in The Other Woman. Shudder.

Because of this and other past offenses, audiences are cautious about models-turned-actresses, and that wasn't the only thing that Delevingne had going against her before Paper Towns. She's also a British woman who landed a highly-coveted American role. That phenomenon is a bit of a sore spot in Hollywood right now, and not just because it can make for some embarrassing accents. 

With all of this, well, hoopla, I was paying particularly close attention to Cara's performance in the YA flick. So how did she do? In a nutshell...not bad. Not bad at all. 

My first concern was of course the accent. Delevingne plays Margo Roth Spiegelman, an adventurous and imaginative teenager who befriends her next door neighbor (who just happens to be madly in love with her) right before she plots an epic escape from her life. Oh and she's not just any American teenager; she's from Florida. But to my delight (and mild surprise), I barely noticed that the model doesn't normally speak in American tongues. Even better, her new dialect helps you dissociate her from her uber-famous persona—it's barely Cara Delevingne without that good ol' British accent.

To Cara's favor, she plays a character who is practically a spitting image of herself. Margo is a wild child to the core, a kind of hybrid manic pixie dream girl who also happens to be the most popular girl in school. She captivates everyone around her with her outgoing spirit and desire to have fun and "feel alive" or whatever (cue MPDG), yet she's also the kind of person who skips school to tour with a rock band for three months. Basically, if Cara Delevingne ever went to high school in Orlando, she would be Margo Roth Spiegelman. 

But that brings me to my next point: Margo Roth Spiegelman kind of sucks. In fact, I hate Margo Roth Spiegelman. Here's my problem with Margo: She's probably the most selfish person I've ever (fake) met. The movie opens with a bit of backstory explaining how Margo and Quentin (played by Wolff) formed an early bond as childhood neighbors but grew apart as they entered high school. Except—whoopsies!—Q has been madly in love with her for his entire life. She enlists him in a late-night revenge plot against her now ex-boyfriend and some of her besties who wronged her (in which he falls even more in love with her) right before she pulls another one of her infamous getaways.

The audience is supposed to think Margo is adventurous. She runs away all by herself! All the time! The audience is supposed to think Margo is mysterious and romantic. She leaves clues for Q so he can find her! She uses Walt Whitman poems as riddles to her whereabouts! But really, she's an a--hole. An a--hole who doesn't give a second thought to any of the people who care about her, and what her disappearance will do to them. She even pretends to be completely (and adorably) oblivious to Q's undying love. And let's call a spade a spade...someone like Margo Roth Spiegelman is never unaware when another person is in love with her.

Yet somehow, despite all this a--holeness, I didn't actually want to go screaming out of the theater or punch a hole in the screen right where Margo's precious face was. And that is solely to Cara's credit. Acting inexperience aside, she is charming as all get out. She manages to have the look of the devil in her eyes and yet a sheepish smile on her face. You can tell she's having a blast playing this awful human, and it forced me to have a blast hating her.

And isn't that all I could ask for?