My rating: 7
IMDB rating: 5.8
IMDB link: The Paperboy
After Lee Daniels made Precious in 2009 and before he made The Butler in 2013, he made this film. Classified by most as a ‘miss’, or as Peter Travers from the Rolling Stone puts it: “This hot mess got booed by the snobs at Cannes”, this film has not received the attention that I think it deserves.
The late and great Roger Ebert said the following about this film: “The Paperboy is great trash, and as Pauline Kael told us, the movies are so seldom great art that if we can’t appreciate great trash, we might as well not go at all.” And for me, nothing could be truer! This film is a study of the human condition, the repressed is brought forward and highlighted- using markers of gender, race, sexual orientation (even fetishism) and social class.
I absolutely loved the 2014 hit-series True Detective– in fact love is not a strong enough word! This film has a lot of the same things that made that series amazing (except Matthew McConaughey, of course): first of all it is also set in the mystical South, studying people usually ignored or overlook by glamorous Hollywood. The Human condition is studied while the psyche is highlighted; each of the characters becomes a representation of an aspect of the self- and the viewer has to self examine. The landscape becomes an extension of these fractured or deviant psyches as it is represented as a wasteland of sorts.
The most exciting part of this film, however, is the actors. There is not one actor that does not step out of his/her comfort zone to give an absolutely career-changing performance. With this role McConaughey starts his transformation into Rust Cohle and Ron Woodroof, by playing Ward Jansen the star reporter from Miami whose homosexuality and fetishes makes him a marginal character in this movie.
John Cusack is definitely not the boy holding a boombox over his head in Say Anything anymore, he plays the (wrongly?) accused killer on death row, Hillary van Wetter, whose obsessive love for Charlotte causes some electrical moments. Zac Efron is one of the biggest surprises, he plays the 20-something college drop out, Jack Jansen. He is certainly the sensitive type, but he has repressed anger towards his mother that manifests in both fits of rage and an over-emphasised obsessive sexuality.
Nicole Kidman is most certainly the biggest surprise. Two hours before watching this movie I was discussing with my friends the fact that she always plays the same roles, but in this film she steps out of that upper-class, composed dignity to portray Charlotte Bless the Southern ‘Belle’ who is obsessed with the idea of romance.
Yes, this film tends to be melodramatic but it is such a sweaty, saucy ride that it is most definitely worth the watch.
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