The Paperboy (2012)
Directed by Lee Daniels
Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo
Reporter Ward Jansen (McConaughey) is back home in Florida looking into the case of death row inmate Hillary Can Wetter (Cusack). He’s enlisted his younger brother Jack (Efron) to help with the footwork as he digs for information on the case. Ward also brought along his writing partner Yardley (Oyelowo), and the convict’s girlfriend Charlotte Bless (Kidman). As they dig deeper into the case they find out that the truth is far more dangerous than they thought.
Lee Daniels has never backed down from tough subjects. His work with films like Precious and Monster’s Ball has proven that he can be successful with even the hardest of truths. This time is no different. With a movie that feels disturbed from the first moments, Daniels takes his screenplay and brings it to life with horrifying reality. His cast is nicely put together for the story being told. Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer), Zac Efron (New Year’s Eve), and Nicole Kidman (The Hours) all pull off their parts wonderfully. In addition, John Cusack (Grosse Pointe Blank) and David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher) are equally great in their roles.
This film has a look that works perfectly for the story. The costuming and locations used to shoot this movie are perfectly chosen. This movie works from a visual standpoint the same way that Winter’s Bone worked. The camera work is also really nicely done. Like most of my favorite movies, this one never feels overdone or forced. Overall, the visuals give this movie a very organic feel.
Another nicely done part of this movie is the dialogue. The film is set in the south during a time when racial tension was very prominent. This culture plays a nice backdrop for the story being told. The writers used this tension lightly and it really compliments the story.
If this movie has a weakness, it’s the lack of a broader appeal. The story is gritty and rough, and this isn’t the kind of film that the general public was rushing out to see. In addition, some of the story seems to lose pace with the overall momentum of the film, making it feel choppy at times. These flaws don’t kill the movie, but I doubt that the casual movie lover is going to enjoy this film.
I really liked this movie for a number of reasons. The visuals and the story work together perfectly. It also features some great acting by all of the main stars. Overall, it’s not likely to appeal to a broad audience, but if you like gritty movies I think you should see this one. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.