Critics are bashing The Paperboy, a Southern-set period piece from the director of Precious and starring Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman, but the film packs brave, bizarre charm.
- Egyptians flock to the polls in historic election
- Mali's interim president flies to France for medical tests
- Le Pen prepared to back socialists in French elections
There have been a number of anatomically unusual erotic scenes in competition films this year at Cannes: ear piercing as symbolic deflowering in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, sex between a woman without legs and a hulk-like pretty boy in Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone, nude orgies involving zaftig middle-aged Austrian women and young African men in Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Love, and Denis Lavant munching on handfuls of Eva Mendes's hair in Leos Carax's Holy Motors.
And lo and behold, US filmmaker Lee Daniels's competition film The Paperboy on Thursday offered the spectacle of Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron (I won't spoil the context).
That's just the Cannes programmers' way of saying "good morning," I guess.
Vivid moments like that one in Daniels' pulpy, sweaty, outrageously entertaining, smarter-than-it-looks Southern noir left a lot of critics huffing and puffing about how something like The Paperboy has no business being at Cannes. I'm not going to wade into the "what makes a film worthy of Cannes?" debate, but people need to lighten up. The African-American, openly gay Daniels is far from the "worst filmmaker of our time," as one critic hyperbolically suggested on Twitter. His previous movie, 2009's Precious, about an obese black teen and her monstrous mother, was an inconsistently modulated melodrama, but it had heart, guts, and an almost operatic sense of grief and redemption.