*Despite shocking critics with a scene in which Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron to treat a jellyfish sting, Lee Daniels’ new film “The Paperboy” received a standing ovation at the end of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film didn’t come away with any festival prizes on Sunday, but Kidman – who was also at Cannes for her HBO film “Hemmingway and Gelhorn” (premiering Monday) – told The Associated Press of “Paperboy’s” warm reception, “We got an amazing standing ovation, which was great,” Kidman tells AP. “This is my fifth time [at Cannes], so I’ve had many, many, many different reactions. That’s the longest standing ‘O’ I’ve ever gotten at Cannes.”
Suspecting a miscarriage of justice in the murder of a small-town cop, Miami Times reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) returns to his native Lately, Fla., to investigate the crime with assistance from his collaborator Yardley Acheman, played by David Oyelowo.
Kidman plays Charlotte Bless, the white-trash, sex-crazed wife of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), the man due to be executed for the cop killing.
Ward’s little brother Jack (Zac Efron), the “paperboy” who distributes the town newspaper published by their father (Scott Glenn), drives everyone to and fro in his truck and develops a heavy crush on Charlotte, only to find out that she is secretly checking for Yardley.
The film begins with narration from the Jansen family’s maid and cook Anita, played by Macy Gray. Daniels expanded the character for the adaptation.
Based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, the film adaptation differs from the source by having one primary character, Yardley, and two secondary ones black rather than white, which adds a bit of racial tension to the story.
Below, Daniels explains why he changed the race of those particular characters, why he chose to expand the role of the maid played by Gray and whether it’s reflective of a wider concern about the lack of quality roles for black actors.
A release date has yet to announced for “The Paperboy.” Watch a clip from the film below.