TIFF: Filmmaker says 'The Paperboy' is 'not a feel-good movie'
Actor Zac Efron, director Lee Daniels and actor David Oyelowo arrive at the premiere for the film "The Paperboy" at Elgin Theatre in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (AP /Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision)
Published Saturday, September 15, 2012 11:50AM EDT
TORONTO -- The last time movie maker Lee Daniels was at the Toronto International Film Festival, in 2009, he won the People's Choice Award for the distressing drama "Precious."
But he doesn't expect such prizes for his new festival entry, "The Paperboy," noting the provocative and polarizing film noir is "not a feel-good movie."
"'Precious' tugged at our heart strings. It was a different type of movie.... This does not tug at your heart strings. It makes you want to throw up, it makes you want to feel a certain way, it makes you feel..." he trails off, motioning as if he were choking.
"And that's what I wanted to happen, and I think that those aren't the prizes. I look at it as art, some people look at it as garbage."
Daniels directed and co-wrote "The Paperboy," which is based on the novel by Pete Dexter.
Teen screen favourite Zac Efron shows a decidedly more mature side of himself as the titular character, who falls for Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), a trashy blond bombshell with a penchant for writing love letters to inmates. Matthew McConaughey and David Oyelowo play a pair of journalists who, with the help of Charlotte, probe the case of a creepy alligator hunter (John Cusack) on death row for murder.
"The Paperboy" has drawn mixed reviews and much chatter over its stark, sexually and racially charged scenes, especially those involving Charlotte.
Daniels noted "Precious" -- which won two Oscars (for supporting star Mo'Nique and for Geoffrey Fletcher's adapted screenplay) and touched on topics including incest and HIV -- also "got a lot of criticisms, from the African American community," because it "opened a door that should not have been opened."
And with "bona fide beautiful movie stars" playing characters who are also caught up in intense circumstances in "The Paperboy," he expects critics will go after him because he's "being audacious."
"It's the exact same thing that I experienced from the African American community about showing a side that people just don't (show), and I think that's the beauty of whatever is shocking, supposedly, about my work," said Daniels, who was nominated for a best-director Oscar for "Precious."
"What's more shocking is that we don't see it more often."
Daniels also noted there's typically "no grey area" when it comes to reaction to his films.
"There's either I love it or I hate it and I think that's what you walk away with my movies."
"The Paperboy" is due to hit theatres Oct. 19.
No matter the critical reception, Daniels is satisfied knowing he's helped his veteran cast members show a different side of themselves onscreen.
"That's the high, that is my award right there, that's my Oscar ... that is my thrill," he said. "And I relish in it, that they trust me with their actor, their instrument, and they do whatever I tell them to do because they want to serve me and the story.
"And it makes me really proud to be a director."
The Toronto film festival will announce its 2012 People's Choice Award on Sunday.