FILM: The Paperboy (15)

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Lee Daniels’s eagerly awaited follow up to the Oscar nominated domestic abuse drama, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire, is one hot, sweaty mess that will sharply divide audiences.

Based on Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel, The Paperboy is a trashy portrait of 1969 swampy, small-town Florida, where newspaper journalist Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) returns to blow open the case of death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), who is accused of murdering a local sheriff.

Ward’s younger brother Jack (Zac Efron), media colleague Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) and Wetter’s hilariously trashy fiancee, Charlotte Bless (a scene-stealing turn from Nicole Kidman) help and hinder the investigation as Ward wrestles with his own demons.

Daniels’s film veers wildly from murder mystery to sex comedy, including an unforgettable scene in which a sizzling Kidman urinates on Efron to ease the pain of a jellyfish sting.

If there is method in the film’s spiralling madness, it’s not always easy to see but if you surrender to The Paperboy, and resign yourself to taking a shower afterwards to wash off the grime and sleaze, it delivers queasy and lurid treats, and a fair few shocks to boot.

Released: March 15 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 107 mins