The Paperboy [Celluloid Hero]
The Paperboy (2012)
“The Paperboy” could be described as an indie movie with a non-indie cast. I’m usually hesitant towards these movies, because I feel like a lot of the times the actors involved are just being artsy for the sake of “expanding their range” or trying to break out of being typecast. I’m all for artistic expression, but often it involves doing shocking things for the sake of shock, as opposed to real expression. “The Paperboy” gave me some aspects of both real expression and shock-for-shock’s-sake.
The film takes place In Florida in the late 1960s. McConaughey plays a reporter attempting to clear the name of a man who may have been wrongfully convicted of murder. His partner is black (not the easiest thing to be in the south in the late 60s); the person he is using for information is a sexually-charged woman (Kidman) (also controversial for the time) who is in love with the imprisoned man. He’s also assisted by his younger brother (Efron) who falls for the woman. The mash of racism, sexism, homophobia and violence combined under the Florida heat give the whole movie a sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable feeling.
The sweat was actually something that really hit me throughout the entire movie. When Kidman’s character is trying to be sexy, but when you can see the sheen on her skin and see her hair frizzing in the humidity, it puts this sort of sadness into her character, like she’s trying to hold on despite her surroundings.
There were a lot of moments that will stick in my memory for a long time. There is one of the weirdest sex scenes I’ve ever seen; a jellyfish attack is healed by the old myth of urination; one brutal sex act confirms a suspicion about one character; the final sex scene is edited to include random shots of dead animals. Everything led to a very uncomfortable viewing. Still, like I said before, some of it just felt shocking to just to be shocking. All of the scenes I just listed could have been left out without really changing the narrative, but it seemed like the director chose to keep them just to be controversial.
Most of the acting was great. Kidman was excellent even if she occasionally went into melodrama. McConaughey was my favorite, despite or because of the fact that his character left me with the most questions. Efron is trying to shed his Disney image, and this is definitely the opposite of Disney. Cusack felt a bit wrong though, and I understand he was also trying to play against his typecast, but it still never clicked for me.
This is one of those times where I didn’t necessarily like the movie while watching it, but it will still stick with me for a while. If a movie has that ability, the way to stay in my head and get a real reaction from me, I have to give it credit.
On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “The Paperboy” gets a 7 out of 10.