We know movie tickets are expensive, so let our movie columnist Jason Weiler give you the low-down on whether or not you should drop $11.50. This week he attends an interview with director Lee Daniels and revieviews his new film.
Lee Daniel’s latest feature is by far his most experimental, and perhaps even his most shocking. Known most widely for 2009’s “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire,” the unconventional director returns with one of the year’s most provocative films, and by far the most character driven. “I was drawn to the project by all the characters” says Daniels, “I’d met all these people in real life but never seen them together in this way.”
And boy do they come together beautifully. Set in 1960’s Florida, The Paperboy is wonderfully eccentric, headed by two particularly strong deliveries from Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron. Speaking on Efron, Daniels remembers when his name first appeared for consideration: “I didn’t want him at first, but he knew he had something to prove, and he did that from day one.”
While Efron’s performance is sure to establish him as a more serious actor, frankly Kidman is the star attraction. “She’s so deep, but tragic at the same time. She’s trash, but yet always in control, and so fun to watch,” gushes Daniels. Armed with a supporting cast consisting of Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, David Olewoyo and Macy Gray, Daniels ambitiously pushes into the swamps of Florida and delivers a mesmerizing film.
The film shocks viewers at more than one point, which Daniels says is by design. “I love to push boundaries. I’ve always been most impressed by the films that are provocative and tell you the truth you don’t usually see, which is what we did with this one.” The film is an experimental project, even down to its filming technique, which is reminiscent of experimental films from the past few decades.
Daniels remembers, “I watched a lot of movies from the ‘60s, because I wanted it to feel like an experimental film.” While at first these techniques might appear bothersome, eventually the nostalgia kicks in and it becomes clear why this choice was necessary for this unconventional story.
While there are many notable scenes in the film, Daniels has one in particular that resonates with him. “There’s a scene with Yardley (Olewoyo) where he reveals more about his true self. That was sort of my civil rights scene, because it reminded me of the things I had to do to get jobs in the past.
Eventually I knew I had to stop lying about myself, and to myself.” Though there are several scenes that are downright jaw dropping, Daniels notes that it’s important to understand that you can laugh at the film. Still, it’s violent, shocking, and just downright creepy. As a result, don’t be surprised if the film polarizes the masses. That being said, the film doesn’t hide anything about itself, and it is sure to find its audience.
Most importantly, it’s clear that Daniels is proud of his work, and isn’t too worried about the shock value of the product. “I’ve had people tell me they hated the film, and that’s fine. The important thing is that the film stays with them.”
FOGHORN GRADE: B
*Written by Jason Weiler, a contributing writer for the Foghorn; Sean Riordan is the Scene Editor