The Paperboy (2013)

The PaperboyWhile attempting to exonerate a man on death row accused of murder, brothers Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) contact Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), a woman who Hillary van Wetter (John Cusack) has fallen in love with through their correspondence from his prison cell. Their investigations take them to the swamp where van Wetter’s brother alleges to have information that will prove his innocence, but the key to their case is later attained by Ward’s colleague at the Miami Times, Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo). As Ward struggles with his own secrets and Jack himself falls for Charlotte, Miss Bless prepares to be united with the Hillary for the first time outside of the meeting room. But is he guilty, or isn’t he?

Directed by Lee Daniels and based on the book of the same name by American author Pete Dexter, The Paperboy premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival to incredibly mixed reviews. Despite receiving a sixteen minute standing ovation ovation, the film was panned by many, including the A. V. Club who named it their worst film of the year. Having first seen the film in Russia, I finally got the chance to watch it again when it featured at the 2013 Glasgow Film Festival.

It’s not difficult to see why the film has proved so divisive, Daniels’ latest is an overblown, no-holds-barred fever-dream that makes no accommodations to taste or political correctness. Grimy both in aesthetic and content, The Paperboy is in essence an exploitation movie that descends from pulp crime story to tawdry thriller in a storm of sweat and sleaze that really must be seen to be believed. The final act is one of the tensest in recent memory, a climactic development jumping straight out of left-field to leave a disbelieving audience gasping with both glee and grief.

Narrated by Macy Gray of all people, The Paperboy finds Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman at the top of their games. McConaughy and Efron climb out of their pigeonholes to deliver  two revelatory performances, the former in particular taking his character to some astonishingly dark and disturbing places, while Efron does the sort of dance that would have likely seen him expelled from High School Musical. The whole thing ultimately revolves around Kidman, however, who all but personifies the sordid and stifling atmosphere with her perfectly putrid Miss Bless. Even John Cusack is quite good in it.

The Paperboy is one of those films that — love it or loathe it — is not to be missed, but rather embraced in all its demented, melodramatic and gratuitous glory. The performances, direction and sheer preposterousness of the plot mark it out as something truly special, and a film that will stay with you, regardless of how vigorously you try to scrub yourself clean.



About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

4 Responses to The Paperboy (2013)

  1. Nice review! I’m watching this later in the week.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    The cast seems to be having fun, but it’s the director that doesn’t seem like he’s into it as much. Maybe he should have went crazier, or not crazy at all. Who knows. Good review.

  3. Pingback: March 2013 – Drive it like you stole it! | popcornaddict

  4. Pingback: Mud (2013) | popcornaddict

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