The Paperboy hasn’t exactly had the best life, yet it’s become all the more appealing because of it. Adapted from Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel of the same name by director Lee Daniels and Dexter himself, The Paperboy centres on Wade Jansen (Matthew McConaughey), a reporter who returns to his Florida hometown in order to investigate a murder case involving death row inmate, Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack).
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May of last year to rapturous applause, but perhaps not for the reasons Daniels had anticipated. It sparked much debate thanks to its scuzzy style, love-hate nature and a particularly sordid scene that involves Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman, arguably looking her best ever), a woman convinced of Wetter’s innocence, peeing on Jack Jansen (Zac Efron), Ward’s younger brother and investigation partner.
Since then, there’s been a wide assortment of reviews crop up online, from those that hail it as instant cult classic to instantly write it off as a trainwreck of a film. Yet it’s been so far unreleased in the UK (it’s finally being released on March 15, after debuting at the Glasgow Film Festival next week), leading many to resort to other methods, such as illegal downloading or importing it from America, where it was released on DVD/Blu-ray in January after a fairly poor theatrical run.
With much restraint and discipline I’ve somehow managed to resist resorting to those methods as, certainly from what I’ve heard from fellow film writers and friends (some have even had incredible-sounding parties to celebrate its supposed brilliance), it’s a film that needs to be experienced on the big screen where one can truly appreciate and lavish in its sexy, hazy, tawdry and sensationalistic beauty. I’ve seen the screen caps though, and there’s enough in those alone to entice me.
Whether or not it ends up living up to its hype or – and perhaps more importantly – satisfying me as a fan of scuzzy American cinema remains to be seen. But, for all the chatter, the ingenious marketing material that’s fully embraced its humid debauchery (the many posters, in particular) and overriding fact that Efron spends most of the running time in suggestive white briefs, it’s definitely a film that I need to see. Hurry it along now, Monday.
My review of The Paperboy will follow next week.