This superb thriller grabs your attention from the very first scene. You see and hear Anita Chester (Macy Gray) being asked about the events of the summer of 1969. You are made aware that terrible things happened then.
“The Paperboy” is a Southern-fried trailer trash wallow that is just so camp, crazy, noirish, deep and downright funny that you stay engaged through the whole thing.
The absolutely-packed screening for members of Stratford East Picturehouse made all of us have a really had a good time. These free movies make membership an absolute must, if you live or work near a Picturehouse.
Lee Daniels directed “Precious” and “Monster’s Ball” but this is just loads more entertaining and joyful to watch than either of those movies.
The direction, casting and writing are all in a superior league. Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo and Macy Gray are all absolutely terrific – McConaughey is having a run of great performances in film – but the real revelation here is tweeny idol Zac Efron, who pulls his own weight among this all-star ensemble. Efron is utterly amazing. Who knew?
Ned Bellamy and Nealla Gordon have minor roles that rivet your attention during their brief scenes.
The less you know about the plot going in, the better. Even if you’ve read Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel, you won’t know what’s going to happen as key events have been changed and characters added.
Briefly, a couple of investigative reporters look into the conviction for murder of a man on Death Row. He is played in full crazy nuts mode by John Cusack. Ward (McConaughey) is from the town where the events took place and Efron plays his younger brother.
The newsmen are enlisted by Charlotte Bless, played by Nicole Kidman in a similar and yet much more overtly sexual role than she acts in “Stoker”.
Charlotte has been writing to the convict in question and it’s made obvious that she is one of those women who has a thing for guys in prison.
You’re told you are in Florida, but it’s all filmed in Louisiana. Come on, film-makers, we travel and know this stuff.
There’s sex, violence, racism, homophobia and plentiful nods to the old South. Loving period features include a photograph of George Wallace on the wall of one official. And the newspaper guys have a big picture of John F Kennedy. The cars, clothing and typewriters all look good and you really do get a feel of another time.
Oh, I do love movies that have no computers, modern phones or extra noise and flashes. And I love the way that even the brands of food and backgrounds just look so very real and 1960s. Okay, there are anachronisms, but you suspend disbelief and ignore these quite quickly.
It never flags. We all laughed a lot while we were watching it. None of us saw the twists coming. Reader, we gasped, often.
Do see this. Moments will make you squirm and feel Daniels has gone too far. But, then, you’ll get pulled into another gorgeous and original moment. All in all, a great treat for the eyes and ears.