Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doing the Nasty; Zac Efron Spends Too Much Time without His Shirt but Nicole Kidman Is Convincing as a Woman Obsessed with a Convicted Killer. It's a Sweaty Mess of a Movie, Full of Brutish behaviourFILM OF THE WEEK

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Doing the Nasty; Zac Efron Spends Too Much Time without His Shirt but Nicole Kidman Is Convincing as a Woman Obsessed with a Convicted Killer. It's a Sweaty Mess of a Movie, Full of Brutish behaviourFILM OF THE WEEK

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sexton

THE PAPERBOY Cert 15, 107 mins ONE of the things people go to the movies for is to see stars getting their kit off. It's also one of the reasons people make films in the first place. At Cannes last year, when the director of The Paperboy, Lee Daniels (previously best known for Precious), responded to a question about why there was so much footage of Zac Efron in his underwear, he retorted: "Because I'm gay and I like it." He later explained that what he should have said was that he himself used always to walk around in his underwear -- "of course, I didn't look like Zac Efron".

The Paperboy is a sweaty mess of a film, adapting a 1995 thriller by Pete Dexter, set in Florida in 1969. Two brothers -- Ward, a journalist on the Miami Times (Matthew McConaughey), and Jack, a college dropout, now literally a paperboy (Efron) -- investigate the case of a man on death row, called Hillary Van Wetter ( John Cusack), who may be innocent of the murder he has been convicted for but is nonetheless vile.

An ageing sexpot, Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), one of those women sickly turned on by convicted killers, is determined to marry Hillary if he can be freed. All their efforts end in catastrophe.

The movie is remarkably faithful to the novel's basic story (Dexter himself co-adapted it) but it has been much switched around racially. Jack narrates the book, whereas the film is presented to us in initial interview and then voiceover commentary by the family's black maid, played, not terribly well, by Daniels' friend, the singer Macy Gray.

The subplot about Ward's secret homosexuality, which leads to him being beaten almost to death, has been racially transposed as well. His friend and fellow journalist, Yardley, is white in the novel but played here by the crisp-voiced black English actor David Oyelowo -- and the pickups who then assault Ward, just said to be sailors in the book, are black in the film too.

The Paperboy is a concoction in which Daniels appears to be relishing certain scenarios for private reasons rather than because the movie itself demands them. …

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