With a cast that is impossible to ignore and a sepiatoney grandesque feel to it, The Paperboy caught my eye as I was browsing through DVDs at the library. I put off watching it for a while and now that I finally have, I feel an eerie sense of catharsis. Like all my senses have reached their peak and cannot go any further, not because it was so moving but because it freaked the shit out of me.
The paperboy is set in USA at a time when racism against blacks was still rampant and white men and women couldn’t stomach the idea of a black man holding a serious job and competing in the same playing field as their own white men. It was a time when grown men were called ‘Boy’.
What started off as a storey about a dysfunctional family in the South, a father who owns a local paper, mother run out on her boys, older son Matthew McConaughey a newspaper writer in New York and the younger son Jack (Zac Efron) just thrown out of college – turns into a thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat. John Cusack plays Hillary van Wetter a criminal who have been wrongfully accused of murder and Nicole Kidman plays Charlotte, the vapid blonde who is dead set on marrying him based on his dirty love letters to her from jail.
Life gets messy, as it often does, and Jack falls in love with Charlotte, seeing in her parts of his mother who left him as a child. When Ward Jansen gets beaten to a pulp during a homosexual hook-up gone awry, his younger brother Jack holds the family together, seeing him through his fathers wedding. In the meantime, Ward’s co-writer finishes the newspaper article that gets John Cusack out of jail – but its based on fabricated evidence and Charlotte is in more trouble than she can imagine.
Moving to the swamp, life is quite different from her glitzy New York lifestyle filled with hairdressers and pretty dresses. Charlotte longs to get out and when one of her letters finally makes it to Jack, he comes to get her. By then its too late, if only by an hour or two. While Jack stands calling her name outside her swampy hellhole of a house, Charlotte lies dead inside. And after her Crocodile hunter husband is accused of murdering her, he grabs his machete and slits Ward’s throat in front of Jack. Somehow Jack makes it through the night in the swamp, swimming to the bottom of the swamp bed and holding his breath with his swimmers lungs, while Hillary looms over him with a lantern and a machete in his boat.
Finally Jack makes it out in the morning, with the bodies of Charlotte and his brother lying in his boat. And he has the evidence he needs to convict Hillary of murder. Jack goes into that swamp a boy but comes out a man. His brother’s death forever on his conscience and the memory of his first love.