Kicked out of college, Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) moves home to the rural backwater of Moat County, Florida, earning money and passing time delivering newspapers. Then his journalist brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) returns from Miami to investigate a miscarriage of justice that has landed a local man (John Cusack) on death row. Ward’s investigation is soon joined by Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), the condemned man’s sultry fiancée, and the obviously smitten Jack resolves to get increasingly involved in the case.

Based on Pete Dexter’s well-received novel and adapted to the screen by Dexter and director Lee Daniels (Precious), The Paperboy positively oozes a kind of lurid, hothouse sensuality; there are plenty of revelations, but not of the kind anyone was expecting. As Charlotte, Nicole Kidman is simply terrific, conveying a kind of gritty eroticism that threatens to engulf any man who comes too close.

New York Film Festival