Lee Daniels directs Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey in this steamy 60s set thriller where a pair of journalists use a woman who writes to prisoners to access a killer.
Very lurid. Very rum. Very undisciplined. You get to see a lot of prestige actors vamp and camp it up. Nicole Kidman simulates a blowjob, Efron gets pissed on and is racist. McConaughey likes rough trade. There’s no denying the entertainment value in watching Hollywood’s best and brightest make an exploitation soap. And it’s not all rubbernecking. John Cusack does fantastic against type work as a hillbilly bad egg… his most exceptional screen work since his millennium heyday. Yet it is haphazard- good on atmosphere, bad on focus. The events tumble into each other with a random escalation, a messy pantomime that never convinces. Like Monster’s Ball, if so much tragic shit happened in a smalltown over a short period, well… shit… Mulder and Scully would be called in. Daniels employs every technique in the book to keep the plates spinning… split screen, discombobulated flashcuts. He’s no De Palma… there’s no playful control or cinematic grandstanding in the flourishes. This is everything but the kitchen sink filmmaking, it doesn’t really work but you can’t take your eyes off it while it all jiggles and flails about.