FILM REVIEW: The Paperboy


The Paper Boy is a very different direction for all those acting in the film. This is a lurid and at times grotesque film about a woman having a relationship with a murderer on death row and the newspaper men who are asked to help clear him so that he can be released from prison and marry her. But there is more to the picture than meets the eye.

With Anita, the career of the Jansen boys narrating events unfolding we are told the story.

Jack Jansen played by Zac Efron is an all American boy who having been expelled from school is now helping out his father and brother in the newspaper business.

Enter Ward Jansen and Yardley Achemen, journalists from the Miami Times covering the story of Death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter convicted of killing the local Sherriff but with numerous irregularities in the legal process they venture into this journey to find the truth. And then there’s Charlotte Bless played incredibly by Nicole Kidman. A woman who corresponds regularly with numerous death row inmates and has her heart set on Van Wetter.

The film is set in the searing heat of the south in an environment charged with racial change in the air. Jack, abandoned by his mother and a difficult relationship with his father finds himself infatuated with older woman Charlotte Bless as she enters his life with the need to have Van Wetter released. His desire for her is strongly sexual but also with the need to fill that female void in his life left by his mother.

Ward Jansen, eminent journalist holds a secret dangerous in times like these and the real nature of the relationship between Ward and Yardley is unclear.

John Cusack brilliant as the repulsive and sadistic Van Wetter, his ability to unnerve you is there right in front of the giant screen you’re in.


The film’s visual quality intensifies the environment of the film. You never question the tension because you know it exists and at times you don’t really understand what’s happening but that uneasy feeling remains. There are a few scenes where you literally want to look away because they are nauseating one being an encounter with Charlotte and Van Wetter but the film keeps you hooked in till the very end.

This film is testing to watch. But it’s worth it, some of the best performances from Kidman, McConaughey and Cusack in years. Very different to recent cinema offerings and a much needed change for movie goers. Check it out.