Friday, March 10, 2017


For the record, yeah, this is the movie in which Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron. But it's not in a Trump-Russian hottie golden shower way. It's to alleviate the pain from the vicious jelly fish stings on Efron's body. It may be weird, sick and twisted and it's certainly a memorable scene but it's far from the most salacious thing that occurs in Lee Daniels' Southern gothic noir THE PAPERBOY (2012).

Set in Florida in 1969 THE PAPERBOY is narrated years after the fact by Anita Chester (Macy Gray), a black woman who serves as domestic help for the family of small town newspaper publisher W.W. Jansen (Scott Glenn). The focus of the story is young Jack Jansen (Efron), a restless, listless and uber horny twenty-something young man with nothing to do and plenty of time on his hands in which to do it. His older brother, Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) have come to town to investigate the murder of the county sheriff. They're reporters for the The Miami Times and they're convinced that the man convicted of the murder, Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) is innocent. They hire young Jack to serve as their gofer during the investigation.

But a wrench is thrown into the works in the form of Charlotte Bless (Kidman), a sexed up, hot-to-trot cougar who has fallen in love with Hillary through prison correspondence. She's convinced he's innocent also but what she really wants is to gain his freedom so that they might consummate their relationship.

Of course Jack falls for Charlotte. Hard. Funny thing, Ward and Yardley don't seem to pay much attention to the incendiary Charlotte. And there's a reason for that, one that is revealed later in the film. Based on the reporters efforts, Hillary is released from prison and he and Charlotte take up residence in his shack in the swamp. But Hillary has played everyone for a sucker and now poses a very deadly threat.

THE PAPERBOY is long on visual style and creative editing. Director Daniels, cinematographer Roberto Schaefer and editor Joe Klotz bring pizazz to the proceedings. The period details are spot on and the performances are all good. Kidman is the standout here, delivering a go-for-broke performance as a white trash horn dog. The story by Daniels and Pete Dexter (who wrote the novel which the screenplay is adapted from), starts slow and never completely gels into a real thriller. There's not a lot of suspense but there is brutal violence and even rougher sex. Because make no mistake about it, THE PAPERBOY is all about sex. Every character is driven by sexual desires and needs, some of which spell doom.

THE PAPERBOY is an adults-only portrait of broken men and women consumed by carnality of the basest kind. There's plenty of sex on display but very little love. Worth seeing.

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