2/24/14

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB - REVIEW


After popping up in The Wolf Of Wall Street and just before ruling the HBO airwaves with hypnotic new show True Detective, Matthew McConaughey appeared in the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers Club and, once again, knocked it out of the park.

The film follows a Texan rodeo cowboy/electrician, Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), as he is diagnosed with AIDS and has to deal with the reality set by his doctor that he might only have 30 days to live. The film is set at a time when new experimental medication was being introduced to treat the disease by the FDA but there were doubts about the best approach to take. Woodroof is a dude that's hard to warm up to seeing as he's pretty homophobic and at times even racist. That said, the movie manages to still make you like the guy as he slowly educates himself about the disease and eventually becomes friends with Jared Leto's transgender woman Rayon, who is also HIV-positive. The change in Woodroof's character is one you'd expect to feel forced but, unlike in, say, Grand Torino, here it feels pretty genuine and it's ultimately convincing. Jennifer Garner stars as a doctor Woodroof meets and grows fond of and, although one could argue that her character isn't quite as useful as she should have been, she does a decent enough job throughout. As you can imagine, the film isn't exactly a bundle of joy, it's a fairly emotional watch, but the performances really carry it through, never letting the film get too depressing or preachy.

One of the best things about this movie is how it doesn't glorify its main character's venture: opening up a "buyers club" where he sells non-FDA-approved medication. This is Woodroof's solution to the problem of having to rely on the FDA's recommendations alone, an organisation he just doesn't trust. The man is desperate, he is given essentially no options or chance of survival, and essentially pushed to this life so, whether what he's doing is the best thing to do or not is irrelevant, it's the only thing he could come up with and, to his credit, he lived for far longer than he'd been told. Basically, the film lets you make your own judgements instead of hammering in morals into your head. Right or wrong, it's after those initial 30 days he was told he would die just after that his life started having meaning, that he started making an impact so it's hard to deny that by keeping himself alive through any means necessary, he made a memorable point worth making. As initially dislikable as Woodroof is, McConaughey makes him human enough that he is surprisingly charming for most of the film. It's another fantastic performance from the actor whose drastic weight loss for this movie really adds to the reality of its theme. Leto is really good as Rayon and also nails the part physically as well as emotionally. This is easily one of the better films of last year and one of the better films on that particular subject so it's definitely one to check out.

All in all, Dallas Buyers Club is a moving, well made movie based on a compelling true story which boasts brilliant performances and which, of course, does deserve its Oscar nominations. It ends somewhat abruptly but, other than that, it's hard to find many faults with it.

It's just a good flick.

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