2012 Certificate: 15


Miami hack Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and his black colleague Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) turn up in the Florida backwoods to investigate a case of wrongful conviction. A redneck alligator hunter (John Cusack) is on death row for the murder of a racist cop. However, local tart-with-a-heart Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) - who makes a hobby of writing to condemned prisoners - persuades Ward that he is innocent. Director Lee Daniels follows up Precious with a sweltering, noirish tale of betrayal and lust.


  • Lee Daniels


  • Nicole Kidman

  • Matthew McConaughey

  • Zac Efron

  • John Cusack

  • David Oyelowo


Squirming through Lee Daniels' fetid potboiler of duplicity, murder and rough sex in the steamy Florida boondocks is like working up a sweat and then being dunked in the Everglades.

You certainly feel like you need a cold shower.

Swamp-dwelling alligator hunter Hilary Van Wetter (Cusack) is festering on Death Row after being convicted of killing a cop.

The only person who believes in his unlikely innocence is local trollope Charlotte Bless (Kidman), a loose-moralled loner who specialises in making pen pals and hopefully more from the poor saps awaiting a trip to Old Sparky.

In a bid to spring Hilary from pokey, she calls in local newspaper researcher-made-big Ward Jansen (McConaughey), who arrives back in his steamy hometown accompanied by urbane black English hack Yardley (Oyelowo).

They employ Ward's high school drop-out brother Jack (Efron) to be their driver but it's not long before he's getting distracted by the generous acreage of bare flesh displayed by the amused Charlotte.

However, she's only got eyes for Hilary and accompanies the reporters to the penitentiary for a grilling about the case that turns into a breathless tantric sex session between her and the slavering jailbird.

Undeterred, Ward and Yardley press on with their exposé, revealing that Hilary had an alibi for the time of the murder. However, tensions are growing between Jack and Charlotte and Yardley may be not who he appears to be. For that matter, neither could Ward.

You can almost see the sweat dripping off this overwrought noir, a garish drama that pinballs from bloody pulp fiction to off-kilter sniggers (where else would you see Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron?) to a tense stand-off that looks like an outtake from Deliverance.

Still, it's never less than a gaudily entertaining watch with Precious director Daniels putting his game A-list cast - particularly Kidman and McConaughey - through the humiliation mill in a sordid Florida a million miles from the Magic Kingdom.

Hot stuff.

Tim Evans