Title – The Paperboy (2012)
Director – Lee Daniels (Precious)
Cast – Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Macy Gray
Plot – Lee Daniels adaptation of Peter Dexter’s sweaty pulp novel of the same name uses the central plot point of a murdered small town sheriff in the swamp covered plains of Florida and the mystery behind who killed him. Zac Efron plays Jack Jansen the paperboy who along with his reporter brother Ward (McConaughey) gets caught up in the lives of the accused murderer Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack) and his pen pal lover Charlotte (Kidman). The dealings between these troubled humans will change the course of their lives.
“He took the officer’s word over Hillary’s. I can’t say I blame him, nobody does.”
Review by Eddie on 5/7/2013
One thing to be said about The Paperboy with full confidence is – you ain’t seen nothing like this before! Lee Daniels steamy un-nervy film is one that polarises viewers into complete love or complete and utter hate. Originally talked about as Oscar bait The Paperboy came and disappeared without much fanfare bar the much talked about performance by the brave Nicole Kidman as the impulsive and trashy small town girl Charlotte. The Paperboy however on viewing now is a film that is hard to ignore.
What we have in the murder mystery plot is an excuse to explore the lives and feelings of all those involved. Efron shows some decent acting chops besides an in form trio of Kidman, McConaughey as his older reporter brother and a startlingly unhinged and deranged John Cusack as the accused murderer Hillary Van Wetter (his first meeting with Kidman in jail has to go down as one of the most awkward meetings in cinema history). Daniel’s has filmed the movie in a way that allows the viewer no time to settle in, every scene could all of a sudden become filled with violence or any other means of shock value all adding to the feeling this movie was made in the 70’s era of schlocky thrillers.
The Paperboy’s ability to divide opinions goes from the story through to that filming style. There are quick jump edits, lots of zoom in and outs and a heavy reliance on filming actors from waist down. Daniel’s has been criticised for these techniques and it’s hard to tell whether it was down as a tribute to those films that inspired it or whether it’s just plain bad filmmaking, either way it certainly is interesting.
The Paperboy however has a fair few aspects that don’t work. Macy Gray as Anita a house slave for the Jansen’s and for some reason narrator becomes nothing more than an annoyance, some scenes in the film seem to be there for no real reason other than to shock a tactic that actually takes away from previous tense and necessary scenes and the films conclusion feels somewhat rushed and mishandled leaving the viewer with a feeling of being ripped off.
Some may look at The Paperboy as a complete fail, others will thank Daniels for coming up with something we have not yet seen. In the end I found myself feeling like not many others did about it, I fell in between. I neither loved nor hated the movie, but I was never not entertained or invested in these characters that at once seem so real then again so fantastical.
3 and a half jelly fish out of 5