Nicole Kidman in 'The Paperboy' Makes Me Want to Wear Canary-Yellow & Fake Eyelashes at the Same Time, Forever


Basically I'll watch any movie with Matthew McConaughey in it, and one of the few McConaughemovies streaming on Netflix is The Paperboy, which I kind of hated but also loved a little. It's set in Florida in 1969 and it's directed by Lee Daniels; it's gruesome as hell and it gave me awful, insomnia-triggering nightmares on Sunday night. But then there are also some Paperboy moments that are so beautiful - mostly because of Nicole Kidman, whom I'd never thought to care about before. She plays a woman from Alabama named Charlotte Bless who gets her kicks writing love letters to prisoners, including a convicted murderer named Hillary Van Wetter, who's played by John Cusack and so hideously scary that I'm pretty sure my John Cusack feelings are now fucked for life.

After watching The Paperboy I read a bunch of reviews of it, and a lot of dude reviewers were whining about how there's so many shots of Zac Efron in his underwear. But I really hardly even noticed that; I was too busy loving Nicole Kidman. A lot of the reviews also make a deal about stuff like her blowjob-pantomime scene and the part where she pees on Zac Efron at the beach, but I'm more fascinated by the way Charlotte's got a fucked-up heart and lust for darkness but she's also the brightest thing. She's always in canary-yellow and hot-pink and crazy florals and dreamy blue, and all that swirly-girliness is a cool contrast to her infatuation with exceptionally bad men. She looks like Brigitte Bardot and a trashy Barbie doll, and she makes me wish the word "sexpot" weren't stupidly obsolete these days. But then at the same time there's this mystical/groovy quality to her: like, she talks about how people in love have telepathic powers and she ends a lot of sentences with the word "dig," used interrogatively, in her tough Alabama accent. I don't want to be her, but I could watch her talk and walk around for hours on end.

Mostly I wish I could take her character (along with Matthew McConaughey's and Zac Efron's and Macy Gray's), and put them in another movie with a storyline that's more indulgent of my excessively romantic temperament. That movie could keep a lot of actual moments from The Paperboy and use them to make something more uniformly dreamy, like the part where Charlotte and Jack dance in the rain:

It could also have a bunch of these other shots of Charlotte being amazing. I don't know, I just think tiger print + baby-pink lipstick is a pretty smart move.

And those sunglasses are so fly. And I love her headscarf. The beach scene has this really gorgeous shot of Zac Efron swimming really far out into the ocean, maybe some of the best movie-swimming I've ever seen, and then there's an equally gorgeous shot of some jellyfish floating up to him underwater (which then turns terrifying, and ends with the aforementioned Nicole-Kidman-peeing-on-Zac-Efron bit, which I'm just not that high on).

And this is Charlotte's business blouse. It makes me want to go to business meetings.

I love Charlotte's mussed hair here. I love her smudgy eye makeup. I'm generally way into movies/television where you can feel the temperature and air quality of the setting, especially when it's someplace that's the kind of hot and humid that makes you a little delirious. Mad Men's often really great at that, and The Paperboy's great at it too. 

Obviously Matthew McConaughey is the greatest smoker in modern-day cinema/whatever, but I'd so give Nicole Kidman the Oscar for Best Female Smoker, no doubt about it.

Charlotte also looks great checking herself out in a compact, and makes me wish I still carried a compact.

When Charlotte wears her blue dress in the bar scene, she's probably the girl that "Devil in a Blue Dress" was written about. I love her fake eyelashes, pink nails, white eyeshadow, everything.

OK hi now I have to talk about Matthew McConaughey for a couple minutes, since obviously he is more important than everything. In The Paperboy he plays a newspaperman named Ward; his character is heartbreaking and tragic and reminded me of how the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein would pay boys to beat him up. He's got these scars around his mouth that are both cool-looking and terrible, and one of the sweetest things in the movie is how Ward and his brother Jack love each other so hugely and unreservedly, like they're not just brothers but also puppies. Toward the end there's a scene where they're riding a little motorboat through a swamp and holding onto each other after something bad's happened to Ward, and it's so lovely. Getting kissed by Zac Efron while wearing an eyepatch on a tiny boat in a swamp is a good look for Matthew McConaughey.

Also there's a scene where Matthew McConaughey eats a piece of chocolate cake while sitting on top of a dishwasher with his shoes up on the counter, wearing a button-down short-sleeve shirt that's got a bunch of pens in the breast pocket, flirting cutely with Macy Gray while she does the dishes. Their dynamic is so chill and sweet; the scene's under a minute but there's so much warmth and that sort of "easy knowledge" thing that made me get all moony about Pete and Peggy in the oyster restaurant last season on Mad Men. There's this quiet acknowledgment of a shared secret between them, and even though I've rewatched the scene about four times now, it still just undoes me and makes me want to write something even half that casually heart-melting. So that's something at least.


  1. You could totally pull off that look.

    1. thanks! i'm not very blonde these days but anything's possible...

  2. I am all about this post. This movie has been very unappreciated, but it produced some great performances.

  3. agreed. macy gray should be in more movies

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  5. I appreciate your take on this movie. I just saw it. It was heartbreakingly good. The acting = excellent. And yes, I'll never look at John Cusack the same way ever again.