Style that still lets the bride shine...
DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
CAST: Macy Gray, Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, David Oleyowo and John Cusack
RUNNING TIME: 107mins
The last movie we saw by Lee Daniels was the Oscar-winning Precious. It earned actress and comic Monique her first Academy Award and new actress Gaby Sidibe her first nomination.
And because he produced and directed The Paperboy, audiences probably will expect a similar storyline to Precious. While that would be an incorrect assessment, this project is as dark.
Shying away from the typical Tyler Perry syndrome of casting only black actors, Daniels picks actors from varying backgrounds, with Gray and Oleyowo being the only black stars in the movie. This gives Daniels the chance to prove that he is not about cashing in on telling stories of impoverished blacks living in the projects.
The two main characters in this story are Gray as Anita Chester, a maid, and Efron as Jack Jansen, a boy raised in Anita’s care.
The story is set in an old-fashioned racist town in America where Jack’s journalist brother, Ward (McConaughey), returns home from the city with a black friend, Yardley (Oleyowo), to do a an investigative piece on an alleged murder. The two want to help the incarcerated Hillary Van Wetter, (Cusack) with the assistance of his love interest, the sex-starved Charlotte (Kidman).
It is a very interesting story told through the eyes of Anita who recalls the tragedy that befalls most of the characters in the story.
What is amusing is, as with Precious, Daniels has adapted this script from a bestselling novel. As usual, those who read the book may not approve of this film, but it is better to go in oblivious as to what is going to happen. That way you get to enjoy a lot of the twists that occur. The picture quality is aided by heavy doses of burnt sienna and magenta hues to emphasise the humid mood throughout the film, which is the complete opposite to Precious where the weather was generally cloudy, perhaps to portray the lead character’s feelings.
The one drawback is the amount of time it takes to get a pulse out of this film. The director takes his sweet time to establish the characters, so you might just find yourself losing interest. He then makes up for it at the end when the story unravels and everything starts to fall into place and you forget that he made you wait. Think of the pacing of No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood; both films are classics, but they only reach the point of the matter much later on.
While all the actors did a sterling job, a special mention should be given to Gray who should probably act more than make music. Her portrayal of a loving maid in a racist era is believable and might earn her a mention when next the Oscars come around. Overall, this is another collector’s item.
If you liked No Country For Old Men and Straw Dogs then you will like this film.