From Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels (Precious) comes this sexy thriller based on the New York Times best seller by Pete Dexter. Lured by imploring letters from the beautiful siren Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), handsome, hard-nosed reporter Ward James (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner, Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), return to Ward's hometown of Lately, Florida, to investigate the seemingly unjust imprisonment of Charlotte's lover, alligator hunter Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack). Hardened backwoods criminal Van Wetter has been stewing in a cell for four years, convicted – without conclusive evidence or even a fair trial - of killing the town's sheriff.
The investigative trio is made a quartet with the addition of Ward's younger brother, Jack (Zac Efron), who quickly confuses Charlotte's maternal nature with love, and vows to protect her from Van Wetter.
When Yardley publishes a story that exonerates Van Wetter, Ward goes off on a self-destructive bender that unveils his own dark secrets. Ultimately, Ward's relentless pursuit of truth and justice, Jack's journey into manhood, and a brutal reality check for Charlotte become entangled in Van Wetter's manipulative web, resulting in one final, harsh confrontation.