The Paperboy received it’s first screening at Cannes early this morning, and the reviews are coming in. It sounds like it has aroused a lot of controversy, but that was certainly to be expected! Everything I’ve read so far praises Nicole for her performance, which is exciting. And then of course there’s the pee-ing news! Read on for the first reviews, and check back throughout the day for more reviews as they come in …
Cannes 2012: The Paperboy – review
Nicole Kidman’s performance is To Die For in Lee Daniels’s gripping, scary and queasily funny Florida noir
A heady, humid swamp fever rises from Lee Daniels’s violent and black-comic Florida noir The Paperboy, based on the thriller by Pete Dexter: a lazy, funny tone co-exists with menace, and Nicole Kidman gives her best performance since To Die For. Race, sex, journalism, publishing and 60s America are all part of the mix – The Help was never like this – and Daniels keeps it bubbling. This gripping, scary and queasily funny picture nurtures a dark threat which lurks like one of its gators just below the surface.
Apart from everything else, The Paperboy is about family dysfunction: Scott Glenn plays WW, a smalltown Florida newspaper publisher whose louche son Ward (Matthew McConaughey), having gone into the family business, has just come in from Miami on a mission to write a massive story about a miscarriage of justice on their doorstep. Convicted felon Hillary Van Wetter, played by a horribly sleazy and bloated John Cusack, faces the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit. Ward and his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) – a black man whose smooth British accent cows the racist locals – figure they can crack this case wide open, and Ward’s excitable kid brother Jack, played by Zac Efron, has offered to be their driver.
Their ace in the hole is Charlotte Bless (Kidman), a blowsy, sexy and very unstable woman who has been writing to Hillary in jail, and is now his fiancée. The boys are allowed to come along on her prison visits to Hillary, and ask him questions after the engaged couple have finished getting each other off with the no-hands dirty talk permitted by the prison authorities. Inevitably, Jack begins to fall for her.
Nicole Kidman really is terrifically good as Charlotte: funny, sexy, poignantly vulnerable. In her own way, she is a romantic, though the romanticism resides very greatly in the sheer auto-erotic potency of that sweaty, dangerous criminal who is behind bars. Charlotte is like Blanche DuBois, but with no illusions, and part of her is tickled pink by poor moony Jack’s infatuation with her. Zac Efron is very good as the sad, motherless boy, whose only friend is the family’s stoical maid Anita, nicely played by Macy Gray. Jack is sick of being treated like a kid brother or a puppy dog by Charlotte, but holding out the hope that their intimacy can be converted into an opportunity for sex. Their scene together at the beach, where Charlotte primly confiscates Jack’s copy of Lolita, is smart, and then tense, and then hilarious.
Matthew McConaughey is marginally less successful; as an actor, his mannerisms can be intrusive: though Daniels keeps them under check here, and his opaque, snappy relationship with the testy Yardley creates a counter-current of tension, complicating the atmosphere created by Charlotte and her frustrated young courtier Jack. And, of course, under all this is the sinister, malign presence of Hillary – a very nasty performance from Cusack. Daniels cleverly creates a situation in which the group have almost forgotten about him, but they are gradually sensing that they could be releasing into the community a very nasty piece of work. The Paperboy doesn’t aspire to any great commentary on America: but it’s a smart, entertaining thriller with an excellent performance from Kidman.
REVIEW: Nicole Kidman returns to stunning form as a trailer-trash ‘oversexed Barbie’ in The Paperboy
Nicole Kidman is like a trailer-trash Brigitte Bardot. all dirty blonde in black false eyelashes, whorish make-up and hot to trot, giving a performance in The Paperboy that will leave you with your mouth wide open in shock, and delight.
One amazing scene has her in a Sharon Stone Basic Instinct situation where she tantalises a killer who sits opposite her in chains.
As she writhes in her seat and sexually provokes the man, a devastating happy ending is reached. It’s a dangerous moment but Kidman, at her most sexually overt, pulls it off.
Nicole plays Charlotte Bless a hairstylist whose time is taken up writing to men behind bars.
That’s how she gets her kicks. She hits her kind of paydirt when she connects with condemned killer Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) who is in jail for the savage murder of a Florida swamp town sheriff.
‘He thinks I’m his angel’, Charlotte tells her co-workers after van Wetter writes and declares his love for her.
This makes Charlotte re-double her efforts to get Van Wetter freed.
She enlists support from two newspaper men played by Matthew McConaughey and David Oyelowo.
Zac Efron , playing McConaughey’s brother Jack, gets to drive them around as they visit Van Wetter in jail and gather evidence to help the murderer gain his freedom.
Director Lee Daniels who made the Oscar winning film Precious knows how to garner terrific performances from his cast which also includes singer Macy Gray playing a maid who narrates the story.
We know Kidman can act and she’s great here as a sort of over-sexed Barbie whose not the brightest of babes.
Daniels pushes Kidman to make her glamour serve the role and she knocks it right out of the park.
So too does Efron who is made to use his own cover boy hot looks to tease. He prances around in his briefs or swimming trunks and he gives his all.
The scene that will be most talked about comes when Efron and Kidman are on a beach and Kidman’s Charlotte comes to the young man’s aid when he’s stung by jellyfish.
‘If anyone’s going to pee on him it’s going to be me’, she insists when she’s told that urine will ease the jelly-fish sting.
The film has lurid and dark moments that Daniels has taken from the film’s source Pete Dexter’s novel The Paperboy.
The film links the corruption of ambitious journalists, to the corruption of a man’s black heart and soul.
The psychology of The Paperboy is fascinating but I think it will be remembered for the extraordinary skill Nicole Kidman was able to use as a woman who flaunts her body and taunts her men to brilliant cinematic effect.
When Nicole Kidman Gave Zac Efron a Golden Shower at Cannes
We’ve seen a lot of unusual things at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, like Marion Cotillard choreographing a triumphant, orca-summoning dance sequence to Katy Perry in Rust and Bone, or an anguished man in Los Tenebras Lux popping his own head off of his neck as though it were simply a grape from the vine, or Guy Pearce delivering a super-wackadoo performance in Lawless, or even Kristen Stewart shedding her Twilight inhibitions (and her clothes) in On the Road. Still, we can confidently predict that when it comes to wild, must-discuss moments from this year’s fest, nothing will ever top the scene from the new Lee Daniels-directed film The Paperboy where Nicole Kidman looms over a supine Zac Efron, cries out, “If anyone’s gonna pee on him, it’s gonna be me,” and then squirts an impressive stream of urine onto the High School Musical star’s face and bare chest.
It’s safe to say, then, that Daniels has followed up his Oscar-nominated Precious with a hot blast of crazy.
Adapted from the 1960s-set Pete Dexter novel by Dexter and Lee Daniels, The Paperboy stars Efron and Matthew McConaughey as two brothers investigating the case of a death row inmate (played by John Cusack) with the help of Kidman, a sexual obsessive who writes letters to Cusack in prison and is determined to marry him. As McConaughey and his journalist colleague David Oyelowo probe into whether the menacing Cusack really committed murder, Efron nurses a full-blown crush on Kidman — and the director nurses his own crush on the handsome, frequently unclothed Efron, even stripping him down to wet tighty-whities in one scene so he can dance in the rain.
It’s safe to say that the press corps at Cannes was not used to such intense levels of Efronsploitation, as at the press conference afterwards, a reporter hesitantly asked Efron how he felt about being so “determinedly eroticized.” Efron mostly ducked the question, though Daniels wasn’t once to mince words. “Eroticized? Eroticized?” he shouted. “He’s good-looking! The camera can’t help but love him. And I’m gay!”
Daniels directs the whole movie at a high-camp level of trashy-sexy allure, and in that respect, it’s closer to his directorial debut Shadowboxer (a movie that romantically paired Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Mo’Nique and prominently featured Stephen Dorff’s half-tumescent, condom-clad member) than it is to his Best Picture bridesmaid Precious. In Kidman, Daniels has got a star who’s willing to give the role her all, and she dons a straw-blond wig, an unsettling Tan Mom glow, and a series of wild, skin-tight outfits as the woman so sexually fixated on this Death Row prisoner that the first time she gets in a room with Cusack — a room, we should add, that is already populated by Efron, McConaughey, and Oyelowo — it takes not even ninety seconds before she is spreading her legs, tearing her pantyhose, and arriving at a loud, hands-free orgasm.
It’s a wild moment … and yet even that can’t hold a candle to the coming golden shower. Later in the movie, as Efron’s romantic ardor for Kidman is at its peak, the two head to the beach, where he decides to cool down with a dip in the ocean. Naturally, he is attacked by CG jellyfish. (Only the sixteenth weirdest thing to happen in this movie.) Covered in sting marks, he barely manages to drag himself to shore, and when Kidman is alerted to the attack by some comely girls who surround Efron, she pushes them away, pops a squat, and out comes number-one. And yes, you get a close-up of the stream. This is a movie that often seems to be missing important transitional scenes or specific inserts, but you had better believe that when Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron, that camera is there.
At the press conference, Kidman admitted that she hasn’t yet watched the movie, but she was sanguine about some of its more out-there moments. “It’s my job to give over to something, not to censor it,” she said. Her costar Macy Gray (we forgot to tell you that this is a movie narrated by Macy Gray, though maybe you somehow intuited it) backed Kidman up, explaining that once you go into character for a Lee Daniels movie, you don’t come back until the last “cut” is called for the day. “You become someone else,” she said. “Even when you go to the bathroom, you pee like your character.” And how.
Nicole Kidman vamps it up in steamy Cannes contender
Nicole Kidman sizzles as a small-town vamp drawn to a convicted murderer in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy”, marking the US director’s return to Cannes Thursday after his harrowing hit “Precious”.
The steamy new picture, set partly in Florida’s humid swamps, features a bleached-blonde Kidman as Charlotte, an “oversexed Barbie doll” who carries on correspondence with dozens of prison inmates in the late 1960s.
One day a letter arrives that stands out from the others, mainly in its vivid description of the sex the convict Hillary (John Cusack) wants to have with her when he gets out. Charlotte promptly declares him “The One”.
Meanwhile crusading newspaperman Ward (Matthew McConaughey) learns of Hillary’s case and believes he has been falsely sent to death row for the killing of a policeman.
Ward, his brother Jack (Zac Efron) and a black writer Yardley (David Oyelowo) begin to investigate with the help of a dossier Charlotte has compiled.
Their first visit to the prison turns into a farcical seduction, as the sex-starved Hillary commands Charlotte to spread her legs and simulate fellatio at a distance as the red-faced reporters look on.
The young Jack, who has an affectionate relationship with the family’s African-American housekeeper (singer Macy Gray) in spite of the fraught race relations of the era, falls for Charlotte and tries to win her away from Hillary when he gets out of prison.
The film, one of 22 in the running for the festival’s Palme d’Or top prize to be handed out on Sunday, divided the audience at an early press screening, drawing an even mix of applause and boos.
The Australian Kidman, who dials down her natural glamour and turns up the sex appeal in the role of the small-town seductress, said she had been looking for “something raw and more dangerous” when she was given Daniels’ screenplay.
“I had seen ‘Precious’ and I thought it was amazing and I wanted to work with him,” she said after the screening.
“Precious”, which tells the story of an African-American incest survivor, screened in the festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar section before going on to two Academy Award nominations.