Sunday 10 March 2013

The Paperboy review

The Paperboy (15/R, 107 mins)
Director: Lee Daniels
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Lee Daniels’ first film since his Oscar-winning Precious certainly serves up a combustible hodgepodge of flavourful ingredients, even if the finished dish lacks a certain something. We’re in sweltering 1960s Florida, where a murdered sheriff leads to John Cusack’s convicted killer on death row, and Nicole Kidman’s white trash Charlotte who claims to be in love with him. Enter Zac Efron as a young writer assisting his journalist brother (Matthew McConaughey) on an investigation into Cusack’s possible innocence, with his relationship with Charlotte getting him into bother he never dreamed of. Though unapologetically lurid, The Paperboy is never quite fun or demented enough to overcome the thinness of a story that has to be garnished with sleaze to disguise it shortcomings and the complete lack of a third act. One particular scene, which we’ll call the “jellyfish” scene in the interests of good taste, will live on in infamy far beyond the film itself, which should tell you everything you need to know. Filthy and sweaty it certainly is, and fans of Efron in his pants will be over the moon. But engaging, or dramatically satisfying? Not even close.

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