107 minutes, U.S.A., 2012,Colour, D-Cinema

After the success of Precious, director Lee Daniels might have been expected to capitalise on the acclaim by undertaking a similarly serious prestige project: instead, The Paperboy is a lurid slice of Southern Gothic noir with an enjoyable air of disreputability. Matthew McConaughey, currently undergoing something of a career renaissance after roles in Killer Joe and the upcoming Mud, is Ward Jansen, a reporter in late-‘60s Florida who believes that Death Row inmate Hillary Van Wetter (a truly scuzzy John Cusack) may be innocent. Enlisting the aid of his brother Jack (Zac Efron) and Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), a woman with a soft spot for felons who has been corresponding with Van Wetter, Jansen is drawn deeper into a fever dream of racial and sexual tensions.

While the film is undeniably over the top, it’s well served by terrific performances from the ensemble cast, each of whom shows an admirable willingness to get down and dirty in this future cult classic. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)


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