The Paperboy (15)

Directed by Lee Daniels
Released from 15th March 2013
Screening at FACT

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Reptilian Delivery

The chances are you will never have seen the tumbling innards of a slit open alligator or imagined the stench; or have never seen what a shoal of jellyfish can do to an athletically honed young body; well here is your chance. Steamy and febrile is only the half of it. Think mangrove swamps, fifty shades of green, fetid vegetation, fettered and frustrated ambitions and the interminable strain of not much ever happening, relieved only by a dip in the sea.

Director Daniels film is an outrageous portrayal of stunted backwater life in small time Florida. dizzy unfulfilled trailer trash Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) pours out coffee to the locals and for something else to do, her heart to prisoners on Death Row. Her latest is Hillary van Wetter (John Cusack), at his obnoxious best. He is the pivot on which the action revolves.

Accused of killing a local cop he becomes a cause celebre when his case is taken up by local investigative journalist (Matthew McConaughey) and his black side-kick Yardley (David Oyelowo). To much bristling of eyebrows from the police and state functionaries, not yet up to speed on racial equality, they are out to prove van Wetter innocent. Ward's younger brother Jack (Zac Effron) is roped in as driver. He is wasting away after flunking college, and is happy to do anything useful with his hands to relieve the boredom of stalking all day in his designer underpants, to the amusement of the black housemaid (Macy Gray).

Charlotte joins the team and Jack becomes increasingly infatuated by her presence, as with much tantalising teasing his advances are rebuffed. She does do the business though by urinating over him in the jellyfish incident. The eventual prison meeting with van Wetter is mind blowing - non touch sex is not usually given an outing on the big screen - as things are brought to a head.

van Wetter wins his appeal and takes Charlotte back to the swamp-life he came from, excessively releasing years of sexual frustration in the process. It all becomes too much for Jack when he receives a letter from her. Forsaking his father's wedding he takes a boat with Ward to hopefully retrieve Charlotte from the monster's clutches.

Daniels has divided the critics opinions with this film. Including mesmerising performances from Kidman and Cusack, ably backed by the rest of the cast, scenery to die in, and music to level any score, there is nothing out there at the moment that can hold a machete to this.

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