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The Paperboy
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Synopsis for
The Paperboy (2012) More at IMDbPro »

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An idealistic reporter, Ward Jansen (McConaughey) and his younger brother, Jack Jansen (Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack). Wetter has been jailed for the alleged murder of an unscrupulous local sheriff, Thurmond Call. Call had previously stomped Wetter's handcuffed cousin to death. Wetter is now on death row and awaiting execution. The Jensen brothers are helped by Ward's colleague, the ambitious black British man Yardley Acheman (Oyelowo) and the seductive Charlotte Bless (Kidman), a woman Wetter has never met but who has fallen in love with him and is determined that he should be released and that they should marry. In prison Wetter receives correspondence from her consistently.

Charlotte tries to prove Wetter's innocence by requesting the help of Ward and Yardley, who are both investigative reporters from the Miami Times and are hungry for a salacious story. Ward returns to his hometown to investigate the case but has mixed feelings about returning home to his estranged father (Glenn),and his new girlfriend, Ellen (Gordon) who distribute the Miami Times in their town. Both the Jansen brothers dislike their father's new girlfriend. Jack is the paperboy after having been expelled from college for vandalism. His only real friend is his black maid, Anita (Gray) who narrates the story.

The evidence against Wetter is inconsistent and the writers are confident that if they can expose Wetter as a victim of redneck justice then their story will benefit them greatly. Meanwhile, Jack has fallen in love with Charlotte who only desires Wetter. Anita realizes that Jack can never stop thinking of Charlotte as she is his first love. One day, with some information from Wetter, the Jansen brothers travel to the swamp to meet Wetter's uncle (Bellamy) who has evidence that he did not commit the crime.

Ward is soon revealed to be a closeted homosexual when he approaches a pair of sadistic gay men who rape and torture him. During Ward's time in the hospital, Yardley prints the news article despite not getting all the facts right. Jack tries to convince Yardley to stop, but instead discovers that Yardley is actually American, but had to pretend to be British because local black men could not be successful unless they lied about their backgrounds. Yardley had also given Ward sexual favors in return for position in the paper.

Wetter is eventually released from prison and takes Charlotte away to the swamp to live with him. She is unhappy and sends a letter to Jack telling how much she hates her new life. During their father's wedding, a recently recovered Ward and Jack go to save Charlotte. However, the escape plan is flawed and Charlotte and Ward are killed by Wetter, who is then arrested for their murder and executed on the electric chair as planned originally. Towards the end of the story, Anita reveals that Jack never forgot his first love.
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