In the Sweat of the Day
There are a number of essentials that you’ll need to bring along when going to see Lee Daniels (director of ‘Precious’) new movie ‘The Paperboy’. A cold drink, wet wipes and some deodorant, as this is one greasy, sweaty movie, and probably the perfect solution to the arctic world we seem to be inhabiting this week.
Set in the 60s Florida and based on Pete Dexter’s same titled book, I am convinced that the staff at the screening we were at, turned up the heating full on, or that this movie may become a major contributor to climate change. With more heat, sleaze ‘n grease than the chicken drum stick from ‘Killer Joe’, this is the movie equivalent of the local ‘chicken shop’ that you stumble into at four in the morning after a brilliant, drunken, debauched night out. Or maybe that’s just my thinking? Maybe you would prefer a quaint ‘late supper’ and retire for the evening early kinda night. That will make us not friends, and it’s ‘The Paperboy’ theme night for me.
The Miami Times reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey, who’s clearly born to play sleaze) returns home with fellow scribe Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) to cover a murder story in which Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack giving such a degenerate performance you can almost smell his BO) has been convicted of.
The great white-trash-hope that is potentially Van Wetter’s saviour comes in the form of Charlotte Bless (fantastically played by Nicole Kidman, seriously achieving excellence with every new recent performance), who looks like Beth Lynch on a club 18 – 30 holidays from Coronation Street. The only seemingly clean cut character about is Ward’s younger brother Jack Jansen (Zac Efron), but in such a sweaty world with raging teen hormones, no purity will last long. And around Charlotte’s very wide open desire to please her knight in stained overalls, Jack hasn’t a hope.
This merry band of miscreants set off to research, investigate and uncover any evidence that they can find to aid Van Wetter, and be sure that no bed sheet will be left unturned, damp, stained and tossed aside in the search. With a back drop of deep south racism permeating seeping through with the 100% humidity, the only natural depraved outcome to the movie would have a scene where Charlotte urinates on Jack’s face. Yep! You can tick that box too.
Nothing listed above may sound like a shopping list of attributes that you like to see in a movie, and that would be understandable, if somewhat boring. This isn’t a movie about the shallow beauty permeated in most Hollywood fare, and is rightfully drunkenly joyous in it’s baseness. It is about the multifaceted dark sides that reside in what it is to be human, even in the perpetual blaze and shimmer of the Sunshine State.
On this merry slide down into depravity, unfortunately it ends up a little too lubricated and doesn’t really hit the spot in the way that I’d wished for, as it takes a bit of a detour in the final chapter, which does feel like a different movie. That being said, it is an absolute joy to watch McConaughey, Kidman and Cusack slide across the screen. Particularly the later two who have turned in their best performances in a very long time. Supported by a great cast, brilliant soundtrack and cinematography that makes you sweat, it has far more hits than slippery misses, a real decadent joy for the most part.
The Paperboy is released in UK cinemas on March 15th.