Directed by Lee Daniels, “The Paperboy” is far from as domestic as it sounds. Racy, erotic and nothing short of shocking, the movie places the viewers into a ‘70s vibe, a decade full of racial and sexual tensions, exhibited most prominently in the youngest of its cast, Jack Jansen (Zac Efron, “The Lucky One”), a paperboy facing anger and abandonment issues.
Based on the novel of the same name published in 1995, the movie is an adaptation that may have been made too closely to resemble the publication. It creates confusing, if not unclear, scenes as the film jumps around, trying to keep up with its own story. It’s entertaining for those with a strong stomach, but it is not recommended for those looking for something to do when their parents come in for a visit.
Starring familiar faces like Efron, Nicole Kidman (“Trespass”), Matthew McConaughey (“Killer Joe”) and John Cusack (“The Raven”), the strongest part of this movie is without a doubt its energetic cast.
Narrated by the family maid, Anita (Macy Gray, “For Colored Girls”), the film focuses on a group of misfit writers and the woman who weaves their stories together. Together, they attempt to win a Pulitzer for an article in which they prove the injustice of their own town’s legal department by helping to release an “innocent” man from prison.
The woman, Charlotte Bless (Kidman), is white trash with a nasty habit of writing to prison inmates. One of the inmates, Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack), catches her interest enough for her to declare marriage. She goes to Ward Jansen (McConaughey) and his writing partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo, “Red Tails”) for help in proving his innocence and getting him out of jail for murder.
However, the narrative is not as simple as it seems. Ward’s younger brother Jack (Efron) falls in love with the much older Bless, who grabs the attention of almost every man in this movie with her immense (and very open) sexual lure.
Kidman is completely transformed, simultaneously impressing and disgusting her audience (one scene involves Bless urinating on young Jack). Not only does she deliver an impressive performance, but Cusack also transforms his usual funny, charming appeal into a slimy, swamp-risen prison inmate.
Murder takes a seat behind the rest of the actions committed throughout the film. It floats behind dazed imaginings of a young boy in love for the first time with a woman who’s been in love countless times. The twists throughout the films will be enough to keep you watching and intrigued, for better or for worse.