How can one director get handed so many perfectly formed building blocks and blueprints yet still manage to bungle the construction? Just as he did with the hot mess that was Precious, Lee Daniels mangles fine source material and sharp acting work in his third directorial effort. The title refers to both Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron, sons of a newspaper editor in rural Florida, investigating a possible miscarriage of justice in the conviction of a death row inmate (played with unnerving unctuousness by John Cusack). Joined by Cusack's pen pal on the outside, Charlotte Bless (a brilliant Nicole Kidman in full, oversexed vamp mode), and McConaughey's writing partner, the four circle around the truth and each other like drooling wolves. Sadly, Daniels abuses this fairly interesting tale and the spotless performances by all his leads. He and co-screenwriter Pete Dexter (author of the novel the film is based on) shoehorn in racist and homophobic commentary, slapping on a voiceover from Macy Gray's supporting character to tell us everything we really didn't need to know. There's a great movie in this swamp of material, but Daniels is not the director to find it.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
- Critic's Score: C-
- Watch the trailer