Lee Daniels' PRECIOUS catapulted the director into the Hollywood spotlight. THE PAPERBOY is an equally disturbing, often brutal tale of racism, homosexuality and graphic loveless sex. Set in 1969 Florida, the story focuses on the murder of the town sheriff and the allegedly innocent man facing the electric chair. Add to the mix a young boy who falls for the somewhat slutty girlfriend of the supposed killer.
THE PAPERBOY is not a pleasant film to watch and kind of leaves you wondering what purpose the movie serves.
Nicole Kidman, nominated for a Golden Globe, dominates the film in a searing performance unlike anything she's done before. I was surprised by teen heartthrob Zac Efron's mature performance. Macy Gray is enjoyable as the film's most likeable character, the sensitive maid Anita. Matthew McConnaughey had a busy 2012, and plays against type as Efron's gay brother working to prove John Cusack's innocence,. Cusack is very effective, also in a non-characteristic role. David (I can't spell his last name!!) does well as the smarmy and deceitful boyfriend of Matthew.
THE PAPERBOY is a Southern "Gothic"---often plodding and occasionally repulsive. It's not a movie I'd watch again.
on December 9, 2012
I came to this film not knowing what to expect. I hadn't seen "Precious" so I was unfamiliar with Lee Daniel's work. Plus, I had read some of the negative reviews about the film, so I came to the film with some trepdidation. But from the opening sequence in which Macy Gray barges in on Zac Efron to clean up his room, and the hilarious dialogue between these two actors, I was hooked. Nothing about what I had heard about the film had anything to do with the actual film. It was at times sad, funny, bizaare, chilling, grotesque, romantic, menacing, and at times all of the above. It was like nothing I have ever seen, except perhaps for the films of Tod Soldendz.
This film, like so many great films, doesn't have a genre, so if the fact that it doesn't fit into some preconceived notion of a specific type of film upsets you, you are not going to understand this film. It is mostly a character study of all the motives, predjudices, obsessions, and secrets that each character in the film carries around with them. Each of the actors is outstanding, and it is a tribute to Lee Daniels that he was able to get such great performances from these actors in roles that had to be extremely challenging for them.
I predict that in time, this film will come to be viewed as the masterpiece that it is.
Lee Daniels has made two films prior to this; SHADOWBOXER with Stephen Dorff (which I have not seen) and the fine PRECIOUS. PRECIOUS garnered a number of awards for the cast and an Independent Spirit award for Daniels as director. With such a strong sophomore effort, he was able to assemble the likes of Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack and David Oyelowo as well as the questionable acting talents of Zac Efron and Macy Gray (?) for the Southern Gothic-style mystery/drama THE PAPERBOY. The film had gained controversy early on in its reviews about a scene where Kidman's character has to urinate on Efron's character after being stung by jellyfish.
The reviews also failed to mention that the film also tends to relieve itself on the audience, resulting in a disgusting, smelly mess of narrative, hopelessly deficient storytelling and some of these actors' worst performances to date.
THE PAPERBOY takes place in the late 1960's in rural Florida. A racist sheriff is killed, and imprisoned and to be executed for the crime is Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack), a volatile backwater scumbag. Crusading reporters Wade (McConaughey) and Yardley (Oyelowo) visit Wade's hometown where his father (Scott Glenn), his younger brother Jack (Efron) and father's maid Anita (Gray) live to open their own investigation into the murderer to hopefully get Hillary acquitted for a crime he seems to be wrongly convicted of. Along for the ride is the seemingly professional and hyper-sexual prisoner pen-pal Charlotte (Kidman), who professes her love for Hillary in a series of letters. This leads to all sorts of discomfort as Jack falls madly in love with Charlotte, despite her engagement to Hillary, and how she also may have slept with Yardley (who has secrets of his own) to help produce false information that may lead to Hillary's exoneration. This leads Ward and Jack to confront certain truths of their own and to an inevitable confrontation with Hillary in his swamp home.
As I was watching this film, I kept telling myself, "This HAS to get better soon". With Kidman's 60's spray-tan and wigs and Cusack's absurd hair and accent and just the absolute contempt this film seems to have for its characters (and the audience, apparently), it is almost entirely unwatchable. I don't mind films filled with unlikable characters; I happen to think that William Friedkin's KILLER JOE (a BRILLIANT southern-fried noir, also starring McConaughey) was a work of genius and it's populated by people you wouldn't urinate on if their heads were on fire. But with that film, it seemed that Friedkin seemed to have some affection for those characters, and here with THE PAPERBOY, it seems like Daniels is actively trying to get you to hate all of these characters. Aside from Jack and Wade and Anita, all of the other characters are just detestable, and instead of just allowing you to make your own judgments, Daniels shoves it down your throat just how awful these human beings are. His directorial style makes no sense whatsoever other than to serve as a pretentious psuedo-throwback to 60's and 70's era filmmaking (split-screens, composite visuals, forced juxtaposition), and it just serves to throw this film deeper into unwatchability.
And these actors give, collectively, some of the worst performances of their careers. McConaughey is the pretty much the only non-tragedy here, since his character seems to be the only one that has layers, and he gives it the best he can. Kidman seems like she studied her character by watching episodes of Jerry Springer, and decided she could best play her character as an antithesis of her own persona, and plays it straight, while doing things and saying lines that literally make your jaw drop (just as she literally does in easily the most absurd scene of the film). Efron just has zero screen presence; even though the film is apparently about him, he seems like he's not even there. Oweloyo has the practiced air of superiority in his portrayal that made him such a convincing villain in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, but here, it's just obnoxious. Gray, who also pulls duty as the narrator of the film, is actually decent, but it's a very cliched role (the sassy, wise, yet lovable maid), which is not her fault. The worst of the lot is sadly John Cusack, who has had his worst screen year ever, with this film and also THE RAVEN, another contender for the worst of 2012. He seems like he's trying to ape Nicolas Cage with the hair and the bad accent and the wild-eyed performance, but he fails on every conceivable level. They could have literally cast anyone they wanted, and it probably wouldn't have made a difference.
The worst part of this whole film is that there seems to be no theme; it's a mish-mash of different film conventions that mix together to make something so insulting to the viewer that it might just fool them into thinking this is great high-art cinema, calling to mind the axiom "Well, if I don't understand it, it must be great". It's not. THE PAPERBOY is certainly one of the worst possible ways to spend two hours (more like three, considering all the times you'll pause it to hear your brain screaming at you), and it takes the award for worst film of 2012.
on February 8, 2013
The Paperboy was kind of all over the place in the beginning with people talking over people so you really had to listen carefully or put the captions on.
Once it settled down in the over lapping talk department it was a very entertaining movie with lot's of strange and interesting characters,Trust me when I say no subject matter were off limits and I'm surprised it only got an R rating.
Nicole Kidman was good as the Ditzy, prisoner obsessed,over sexed 'Charlotte Bless' and so were the rest of the characters.Matthew McConaughey was bold in his portrayal of 'Ward Jansen' The oldest son of the southern Jansen family.
Ward's Little brother'Jack Jansen' is played by the very grown up looking and handsome Zac Efron who falls in love with Charlotte even though he sees her do some very over the top unladylike things especially for 1969 as this is the time period the film is set.
The surprise for me was 'Macy Gray' as the Jansen's housekeeper Anita who narrates the film and also has a special bond with Jack.She was great and overlooked in the award nominations. John Cusack is barley recognizable as the sweaty greasy 'Hillary Van Wetter' whom Charlotte is in love with,there's a lot of swamp action and other uncomfortable situations that will have your jaw dropping.I enjoyed it and applaud it's boldness even though it could leave you somewhat depressed.
on December 19, 2012
With The Paperboy, we have the arrival of a major new cinematic talent - Lee Daniels. Though his first two films (the bizarre Shadowboxer and the extremely well-acted Precious) had their merits, only with The Paperboy do we finally see the maturation of his craft, the arrival of a distinct new voice. It is a hypnotically bold, daringly original, and utterly fearless film that seemingly effortlessly dances between drama and comedy, tenderness and tension, completely unafraid to go to shocking, dangerous places. It feels totally unpredictable, and nothing about it feels safe, which is something far too many movies are these days. The Paperboy hearkens back to the audacious spirit of American cinema in the 1970s, when filmmakers weren't afraid to make outrageous works like Deliverance and Prime Cut. In this film's world, nothing is sacred, and because Daniels is so assured with this approach, so completely in control of every moment, watching it is an enthralling, absorbing, exhilarating experience.
Rarely am I so entertained and captivated by a film, and even more rarely am I so blown away by a film's originality and daring. With The Paperboy, Lee Daniels created a world I didn't want to leave and a film I didn't want to end. I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
on November 5, 2012
This motion picture is difficult to watch in places; but it is without doubt one of the best films I've seen this year. Nicole Kidman's performance deserves an Oscar. Ms Kidman is truly an actress who cannot be forced into cookie cutter roles. She has proven throughout her career that she can assume the character convincingly no matter how different that individual is from herself ... a rare and amazing gift.
Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, David Oyelowo, John Cusack & Macy Gray also give outstanding performances. I especially loved the character played by Macy Gray ... a truly loving and generous character in the midst of a world that did not value her as she deserved.
The Paperboy touches many dark places known to human beings. The film is set in a small Florida town in 1969 ... a place you might expect to find the racism and violence depicted in the film; but by the end of the film, you may view these expected vices tame compared to the other human conditions you'll witness. The Paperboy brings to the surface so much more than you'd ever expect to find in that damp, dark, swampy place.
You won't forget this film for a long time. It will haunt you for days.
on February 12, 2013
Wow, this film is a mess. What was the aim here? Cutting edge, risque, camp, all of the above? The movie is so focused on being over-the-top shocking and perverted it forgets to even have a plot. What is the plot, if any? Unless you've read the book or the wikipedia page, you'll be lost because of the plodding pace and the nonsensical editing. Why do we need to watch Nicole Kidman pee on someone...or pleasure herself in front of a prison cell...Or see Matthew McConnaughey postioned for a rape scene? Maybe one of these things, but not all of them, with more to boot. Also, in addition to a poor script and editing, the acting is bad and often comes off campy and unbelievable in many scenes. This in spite of a top-notch cast which includes Nicole Kidman and John Cusack. Nicole Kidman's accent is all over the place. She is supposed to be Southern, but sometimes almost reverts to her native Australian accent, then back to Southern; other times flat as if she's Midwestern. An unrelated note: The movie obviously takes place in the 60's, but much of the music is 70's disco, which is an anachronism....which tells me that the makers of the movie can't edit OR research the history of different eras thoroughly enough.
on March 21, 2013
Less Daniels made the impressive "Precious" a few years back.
This time he co-wrote the screenplay with the writer of the book of the same title and directed the film
but everything went wrong.
It is one of worst written and directed film in my recent memory with a cast of good and experienced
actors who committed to the roles most likely by the reputation of Daniels' last film and did everything they could
enduring heat and embarrassment but all failed miserably.
The film is a pointless, repulsive and sensationalized attempt of a period southern noir.
Stay away from it.
on March 18, 2013
A great cast for a simply awful movie, it is violent and close to porn. Not sure why Nicole Kidman associated herself with this movie. Thankfully it was a very cheap rental.
on January 22, 2013
"You seem like the only person who thinks Hillary is innocent." Ward Jansen (McConaughey) is a reporter who comes back to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. When he starts to dig into the case things get more and more strange and he is left wondering who is telling the truth and why are some people hiding the truth. This is a hard movie to review. I really liked it but it is not for everyone. The acting is amazing and really carries the movie. It is filmed in the style of a 60's type movie and is very gritty and I like the style. The movie itself however is a little slow but keeps you interested the whole time and you really begin to feel for all the characters. Even Zac Efron does a great job in this. This is not a happy movie at all and by the time the end comes you wonder if everyone got what they deserved or if it was all too much. If you are looking for action movies this is not it. This is more of a character driven drama that I enjoyed that had great acting and deserves to be seen by more people then will see it. Overall, very good but depressing. I give it a B.