Writer-director Lee Daniels exploded onto the scene with his Academy Award nominated drama Precious (and I’m informed by our legal team** that I’m obligated to add “based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire) which was not only a powerful piece of filmmaking but finally proved that Mariah Carey can do more than just destroy my festive cheer every Christmas.
Now Daniels is back with his sophomore film, The Paperboy, which looks to be far less emotionally draining than his first effort, but nonetheless still pretty intense.
From Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels (“Precious”) comes a provocative, sexually-charged tale of desire, ambition, prejudice and crime set in the 1960s swamplands of South Florida. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack and Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy” dips into the gritty human underside of a murder investigation, as a compelling cast of characters confront obsession, deception and their own dark, dark demons on the muddy road towards retribution.
It all begins in the steamy rural backwater of Moat County, Florida, where things have been done the same way for decades, yet change is bubbling beneath the surface. Boyish Jack Jansen (Efron), son of the local newspaper publisher, has just returned home after being kicked out of college, only to take the lowly job of paperboy. But that too changes when his idolized journalist brother Ward (McConaughey) comes to town from Miami on the trail of a story that could make his career.
Bringing in tow his hotshot writing partner Yardley (Oyelowo) and the alluring death-row groupie Charlotte Bless (Kidman), Ward plans to prove that an innocent man has been railroaded on his way to the electric chair. With Jack as their driver, the quartet arranges to meet Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack), the seedy alligator hunter hastily convicted of killing the local sheriff, at the prison. But what erupts between them all is a tangled web of sexual tension, mixed motives and shadowy facts that will set off not only a search for the truth but a chain reaction of passion and violence. Observing it all is Jack’s only real confidante — the disregarded family maid Anita (Gray) – who watches in dismay as his innocence is turned inside out.
While that trailer indicates that this film could make for one twisted Southern tale of love and violence, it fails to highlight the most important scene that will probably make you want to get your cinema ticket faster than you can say “This ain’t High School Musical no more!”. You see there is a scene in the film where Efron’s character gets stung by a jellyfish, and if you ask most people what to do in a case like that, they”ll probably say that you need to pee on it (despite the fact that that’s not completely true, but we’ll save that lesson for another day). And that’s exactly what Nicole Kidman’s character did. For real.
Let me say that again, so you can understand Nicole Kidman really for real urinated on Zac Efron in this movie. So, yeah.
The film received a limited international release in October already, but there’s no local release date set yet.
**When I say legal team, I actually just mean Darryn’s brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl, who – due to there being nothing to do in PE – have seen a combined total of around 2000 of those Desmond Dube Legal Wise commercials.