Cannes 2012 Review: The Paperboy

We continue our preview of the biggest films of this year's fest with a look at Lee Daniels' follow-up to Precious.


rating: 1

Following on from Precious, his first well-received directorial effort (after the largely unappreciated Shadowboxer) appearing in the festival's Un Certain Regard secondary competition back in 2009 and eventually winning Oscar acclaim, director Lee Daniels returns to the Croisette with his third film The Paperboy. Premiering to sneers, snickers, chuckles and gasps - all laughing AT the movie rather than with it - it is a truly bonkers affair, a trashy late 60s set melodrama that is too elaborate and sensationalist for its own good, it's only enduring legacy I fear will be its acclaim as the movie where Nicole Kidman pissed on Zac Efron! Certainly that scene, the only half-memorable thing in this overwrought misfire, is what anyone will at all remember from this dreadful motion picture, with the perhaps exception of sweat and the Florida swamps... lots of Swamps... and alligators. thepaperboy Based on Peter Dexter's well-thought of novel of the same name, The Paperboy follows two journalists (Matthew McConaughey & David Oyelowo) who investigate whether death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) is actually innocent of murdering a Miami sheriff, who had murdered his cousin. Nicole Kidman co-stars as Charlotte Bless, a sex-crazed eccentric who is engaged to be married to Hilary but has only corresponded to him by letters to him in prison, and Zac Efron as Jack Jansen, a former athlete who grows obsessed with the idea of bedding Charlotte when he is ropped in to help his older brother (McConaughey) with their investigation. Director Lee Daniels' previous film was a surprise highlight of Cannes a few years back, and though the subject matter was difficult to take at times, it was an accomplished human interest story. Sadly The Paperboy, despite on paper appear appearing to present similar artistic opportunities, isn't the work of the former and the presence of fan favourites like John Cusack, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman will likely secure a wide distribution but seeing them in such bizarre roles, in such a strange movie, will likely confuse and confound, rather than delight audiences. It's a bad taste movie... as murky and muddled up as the Florida swamps that these unlikeable characters are holed up in.

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.