A strange hybrid of southern gothic literature and 70s drive-in cinema, this drama centers on a young man in south Florida (Zac Efron) whose older brother (Matthew McConaughey), a reporter for a Miami daily, returns to town hoping to exonerate a worthless swamp rat (John Cusack) for the murder of a local sheriff. Joining the brothers in their crusade are the reporter's black colleague (David Oyelowo) and the convict's oversexed girlfriend (Nicole Kidman), who immediately becomes the younger brother's love object. The story allows director Lee Daniels, best known for his Oscar contender Precious
, to return to the perverse sexuality and oddball characterization of his debut film, Shadowboxer
, but it's a damn sight better than that ramshackle exercise. Adapted from a novel by Pete Dexter, the movie curls back and forth as sinuously as a snake through the bayou, tracing the fine line between desire and degradation.
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Snakes and gators aren't the only dangerous critters in The Paperboy