The Paperboy

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Lee Daniels
  • Cast:Matthew McConaughey , John Cusack, Zac Efron, Macy Gray, Nicole Kidman
  • Release Date:February 28, 2013
  • Distributor:Roadshow
  • Running time:107 minutes
  • Film Worth:$13.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A steamy, sordid and gutsy film that’s baffling in places but also fearlessly performed and packed with provocative questions.

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By now, even the most casual film fan has likely heard the reports that Lee Daniels’ latest feature, The Paperboy, is a campy, profane and indulgent piece of cinema, but what does it have going for it? It has an undeniable pulse. Forget timid or subtle. This Southern-set story sweats and sizzles in a way that will have viewers squirming, and confirms that while Daniels may be a divisive talent (even his Oscar-nominated Precious had its fair share of detractors), he has definite guts as a filmmaker.

An adaptation of Pete Dexter’s novel, Zac Efron stars as Jack, a college dropout in sixties Florida, whose interest is piqued when his reporter big brother (a charismatic, intelligent turn from Matthew McConaughey) returns to town accompanied by his enigmatic African-American colleague (David Oyelowo). They’re investigating the case of Hillary Van Wetter (a chillingly deranged John Cusack), a wrongfully incarcerated prisoner on Death Row. Tailing his brother, Jack falls in love, or lust (or both), with Hillary’s salacious fiancée, Charlotte (a fierce and fearless Nicole Kidman).

Refusing to be boxed in, Daniels’ film is a domestic melodrama, sexed-up thriller, and coming-of-age tale all in one, and it feels like the director himself isn’t exactly sure of what he’s trying to make or say, besides leaving an impression. But while often baffling, it’s definitely not lacking in substance, with Daniels raising challenging questions concerning prejudiced legal systems, complex race relations (the director changed the ethnicity of a number of key characters), and toxic relationships (disturbingly portrayed via Charlotte’s masochistic romance with Hillary). Yes, Daniels may not yet realise that shocks can undermine storytelling, but they’re also what makes The Paperboy, for better or worse, one of the year’s most unforgettable flicks.

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