The Paperboy
The Paperboy

Film Review

Film title
The Paperboy
Lee Daniels
Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Scott Glenn, Macy Gray
Release date
15 Mar

The Paperboy

3/5 stars
Film review by John Nugent.
Published 07 March 2013

It's Florida in 1969 and in the midst of a summer so hot that “God himself must’ve been sweating", a small-town sheriff is murdered. Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack) will go to the chair for the crime, unless local investigative reporter Ward Jansen (McConaughey) - aided by brother Jack (Efron) and oversexed convict groupie Charlotte (Kidman) - can prove otherwise. Heat sears through the screen as the muggy murder-mystery converges with a young man’s sexual coming-of-age, a first love forged in the salty fires of piss on a jellyfish sting.

Director Lee Daniels tenaciously fosters the same provocative, naturalistic atmosphere that won Precious so many plaudits, and his cast is faultless. Cusack in particular impresses as sleazy swamp-dwelling Hillary. However, strong turns and sharp-edged characterisation fail to mollify the lingering feeling that this is a fairly by-the-numbers noir procedural dressed up with some charged sexual and racial politics. The Paperboy hints at something great, but squint past the trickles of perspiration and you’re left wanting. [John Nugent]