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The Paperboy - Film Review

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by Sacha Bowen (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living and loving Melbourne
Published April 7th 2013

I used to be in love with John Cusack, but after 20 great years together, the Lee Daniels' adaptation of Peter Dexter's book The Paperboy, has changed all that. His portrayal of convicted murderer Hillary Van Wetter is as brilliant as it is plain creepy.

The Paperboy is set in 1969 down in America's deep South where we have the familiar mix of racial tensions combined with heat, alligator filled swamplands and to get things started the recent murder of a corrupt local sheriff.

While this event provides the impetus for Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ward (Matthew McConaghey) to return home to his little brother Jack (Zac Efron) to cover the story, it fades rapidly into the background as the deeper desires of the main characters simmer to the surface.

Hillary Van Wetter has been convicted of murdering the Sheriff, but Ward and his girlfriend Charlotte, played with all the trimmings of trashy greatness by an almost unrecognisable Nicole Kidman, are determined to prove his innocence. And so it goes, along with the sassy support of family maid and narrator Anita (Macy Gray).

Lee Daniels, best known for directing the confronting and heart wrenching film, Precious, delivers a gritty and sexually charged piece that captures not only the racial tensions of the time but the sexual tensions that drive Ward, Charlotte and particularly, Jack.

Much like Precious, The Paperboy contains scenes you may never want to see again, but its because of these scenes that the film and the plight of its characters stay with you long after the credits roll.

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