Everyone gets lonely. It doesn’t matter how popular or unpopular we are. No matter how many friends and family members we have, only we know what it’s like to be us. We can bond with our loneliness and even let it consume us, but loneliness cannot take the place of the heart of a soul mate.
“Paper Towns” follows the journey of Quentin, a teenage boy who spends his last weeks of high school tracking Margo, a schoolmate that he thinks is the love of his life. They’ve never dated, but he feels so connected to her that he is determined to find her when she runs away near the end of the school year. Margo, who has a flair for theatrics, has left behind clues that– when interpreted correctly–reveal where she went. If he can figure out her clues, he can also figure out how to find her. It’s up to him whether or not he will follow those clues all the way to her.
It becomes clear in the movie that both Quentin and Margo are lonely individuals. Quentin is lonely because he is too careful with himself, and Margo is lonely because she isn’t careful enough. Neither of them have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Quentin struggles to open up and give his heart to another, while Margo wears her heart on her sleeve. She gives it too freely to the wrong people. So even though she can get a boyfriend without a problem, she’s not able to hang onto one. Though Quentin and Margo have different personalities, their flaws all add up to the same problem: trouble connecting with other people.
Watching Quentin discover how deep his feelings run makes for a touching movie. To see a male character fall head over heels for a girl, with such reckless abandon, might be a little difficult for an adult to understand. But when it’s taken into account that Quentin has never had a girlfriend or even been to a party, it’s a little easier to understand his emotional immaturity. Even for his age, he’s naive and inexperienced. His infatuation with Margo is both juvenile and honest, and he’s experiencing that kind of passion for the first time in his life. He’s a young man learning how to deeply connect with another person, and your heart will go out to him as he learns how to follow his own heart.
The only way to move past loneliness is to learn how to connect with others in a meaningful way. As much as Quentin would love to connect with Margo, it’s a struggle for him to do so. As the story progresses, Quentin realizes that he doesn’t really know Margo at all. In fact, Margo doesn’t seem to know herself all that well either. These two both crave a deep connection with another person (regardless of whether she’ll admit it or not, that’s the only reason she creates clues), and Quentin’s journey is to discover whether or not he’s meant to tie his to soul to hers.