How does one define a mystery? Clearly a story with an event, usually some kind of murder, with trails of clues leading some kind of investigator to the truth. These mysteries can be thrilling, they can be sad, they can even be funny. However, in most cases, the viewer or reader is aware at all times that the story strongly focuses at the mystery at hand. When you watch "The Paperboy", you will realize this isn't so, that the genre and subgenre of the film change a bit, and get mixed around, making it a little hard to understand the whole point. No, this is not another movie made off of a video game, though that may have been pretty interesting.
To get an idea of what the movie is about, you just have to remember while watching it that it is about the murder of the sheriff in town. It sometimes strays from that point, but that is where the goal of the film stems from, so please keep that in mind. Matthew McConaughey plays an investigative reporter in this film named Ward Jansen. Ward is in town to find Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), the accused sheriff killer, innocent and set him free. With him is his brother Jack (Zac Efron), his writing assistant Yardley (David Oyelowo), and Hillary's fiancé, Charlotte (Nicole Kidman). All of them work together to find Hillary innocent and set him free, but things get darker and darker as the film progresses.
Simple enough idea, but the film is swamped with uncomfortable scenes that take away from the main plot. The main feeling behind the film is dipped in awkwardness as things that should not be seen between the characters...is seen. Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron after a jellyfish attack, Zac Efron has a crush on Nicole Kidman, and a whole lot between Cusack and Kidman that will make you close your eyes and ears. These types of things were very distracting, but in all honesty...done well.
Yes, the acting and cast was strong all around. Efron and McConaughey have surprising and remarkable chemistry as brothers. Even Macy Gray held a very strong performance as Anita. The performances were top of the line from these fine actors, so that wasn't the problem. The problem only arose at the writing. It was simply confusing. One of the most important parts about the writing is to get a good idea out in the open within the first half hour of the film as to what they are doing and what they plan to do throughout the film. Usually their goal is mentioned in the introduction, and you have good standing while watching it. This film had this, but if you look away you might miss it and have to fill in the holes, so it wasn't entirely clear. There was just so much information in the beginning that an audience may feel overwhelmed.
IMDb classifies this film as a thriller. It's not. It's more a unpleasant mystery than anything else. It is only thrilling within the final fifteen minutes of the film or so. When it gets there, you will be engrossed, but as for the rest of the film? You might have to force yourself to smile and nod because it does get slow and melodramatic when it isn't being strange or awkward. It is definitely not a movie for everyone, but a select few may be able to pick out and appreciate the talent that these actors bring with them.
"The Paperboy" comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Jan. 15!