Director: Jean Marc-Vallée
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Running Time: 117 min
Plot: Hell raising cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) contracts the AIDS virus, and in an attempt to save himself and others, he establishes a club for fellow victims to buy unapproved drugs. If you hadn’t guessed, it takes place in Dallas.
Matthew McConaughey lost so much weight to play AIDS victim Ron Woodroof that some of his friends thought he actually had the virus and that the role was just a cover. His physical transformation is the least remarkable aspect of Dallas Buyers Club, and its snowballing success at various awards ceremonies suggests inevitable Oscar glory.
Ron Woodroof was a real piece of work; a racist, misogynist, homophobic, alcoholic coke-head who swore with every other word and stood for no bull shit (except when he attended the rodeo and stood in the actual shit of bulls). In 1985 his care free cowboy lifestyle was turned abruptly on its head when he was diagnosed with the HIV virus. Given only 30 days to live and spurned by his vehemently anti-gay community, Woodroof’s ignorant attitudes diminish as he comes to understand the true extent of the AIDS affliction. Meanwhile, his tentative bond with transvestite AIDS sufferer Rayon (Jared Leto) allow him to fully mature and face his problems with a life affirming fury.
Jared takes Matthew to the gay bar, the gay bar.
As you watch Dallas Buyers Club, you begin to appreciate the purity of Woodroof’s goals – he doesn’t want to die, and he doesn’t want his friends to die either, and it’s as simple as that. The gradual realisation of his image compared to his reality is magnificently handled; first he catches his battered, warped reflection in a blank TV screen, then in a farcical rodeo painting when he’s selling lifesaving drugs in a gay bar. Finally, through painful self-examination he acknowledges what needs to be done. Woodroof embraces the gay community and unites them against the FDA and the ‘poison hocking’ medical manufacturers that refuse to supply them with the precious AIDS -battling Peptide T, forcing him to smuggle it en masse by way of Mexico, Japan and elsewhere besides.
Dallas Buyers Club is acting at it’s best; you forget that you’re watching people pretending to play other people, and that’s all that matters. Matthew McConaughey gives the second best performance of the year (James McAvoy in Filth still clinches it in Movie Quibble’s opinion) and his displays of affection towards Rayon (the phenomenal and unrecognisable Jared Leto) warm the cockles to a scalding degree. Jennifer Garner has a key role as Eve the anti-AIDS, anti-establishment doctor, and her low key determination boosts every scene that she’s in.
Dallas Buyers Club is a fantastically made film and well worth the 15 years of grief it took to get the true story from script to big screen. Acting Oscars shall abound, but it had better win Best Editing too, because the cross country drug-running montage sequences are truly spectacular. Dallas Buyers Club will enhance your appreciation of life in all it’s multi-faceted weirdness, and it has the power to restore your faith in the human race.