The murderer in question is the yokel-toned Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), who has been convicted of the brutal murder of a local sheriff. Helping Ward out on the case are his partner, Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), an African American journalist with a bad temper, and his kid brother Jack (Efron), who has aspirations of also becoming a write. The tale is narrated by the Jansen's housekeeper, Anita (Macy Gray), who curdles out her lines with an over-emphasised twang, yet still manages to generate an incredible degree of sympathy, tapping into the racial themes of the movie, whilst also in contrast to Yardley's ire. However, the real talent behind The Paperboy lies in its central cast.
It is McConaughey, however, who was born for Daniels' movie, channelling some of the darkness we saw in William Friedkin's Killer Joe (2011), offering up yet another impressive performance as the dogged journo. Ultimately, The Paperboy is to be enjoyed for its ultra-camp performances, so delightfully hammy and over the top that they swiftly become mesmeric. Wild directorial flourishes, such as the grainy 1960s film stock aesthetic, enhance the thick-aired heat of tale, submerging you into a world laced with constant injustice. However, whilst Daniels tackles the themes of race and equality head on, they're ultimately pushed under by the film's greasy, fattening melodrama.
Is there a purposeful statement underneath all the trash talk and push-up bras, as we saw with his previous effort, 2009's Precious? No, not really. Is there a sense of irony from Daniels? Definitely not. Yet it seems lady luck is on the divisive American director's side - quite by accident, he may have just made a minor cult classic, supplemented further by several incredible performances from a starry cast. Ignore what the critics said within the heated bubble of Cannes - The Paperboy is more than worthy of your time and money, jellyfish and all.