Nicole Kidman sizzles in sexy southern noir The Paperboy

Nicole Kidman Paperboy

Kidman, who 'secretes sensuality like a snail does slime', plays a woman trying to free a death row inmate

LAST UPDATED AT 07:46 ON Fri 15 Mar 2013

What you need to know
American noir thriller The Paperboy, directed by Lee Daniels (Precious) from a screenplay by Pete Dexter, opens in UK cinemas today. It was famously booed at Cannes, but several critics liked it – and some who didn’t have since changed their minds.

The Paperboy is set in 1960s small-town Florida where Charlotte Bless, a promiscuous woman who writes to prison inmates, coaxes a Miami Times reporter and his brother into helping her free death row convict Hillary Van Wetter.

Nicole Kidman stars as Charlotte, Matthew McConaughey is the reporter, and Zac Efron is his drop-out brother. John Cusack plays Hillary Van Wetter. See trailer below.

What the critics like
Boring it's not, says Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. This "campy southern trash-wallow" has guts and heaps of atmosphere. It’s shamelessly lurid but there's no denying its profane energy.

A flick that should never have been shown at Cannes, says the Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin who disliked it then, but has since changed his mind and now gives it four stars. It's "a heady mirage of sex, swamps and soul music that wants nothing more than for you to share in the joke. Thank goodness I finally got it.” As for Kidman, she "secretes sensuality like a slug does slime".

Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times agrees. "Kidman is a force of nature," she says. "More vulnerable, more sensual than she has ever been".

What they don’t like
It’s a good story about people who are not what they seem, a true swamp tale - but it's "messily ineffective", says David Denby in the New Yorker. Daniel’s "slovenly" direction wastes some good performances, especially those by Kidman and Cusack.

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