Movie Review #678
Studio: Voltage Pictures — True Entertainment
Distributor: Focus Features
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Produced by Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter. Screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack.
Rated R by the MPAA – frequent profanity, infrequent and strong sexual content, nudity, drug material. 1 hour, 57 minutes. Premiered at Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013; at Donostia-San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 25, 2013; and at Mill Valley Film Festival on October 10, 2013. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and in New York City, New York on November 1, 2013. Wide release in the USA on November 22, 2013.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, and Dallas Roberts. Also starring Carl Palmer, Sean Boyd, and Tre Tureaud. With an uncredited cameo appearance by Catherine Kim Poon.
If there’s one thing I have to say overall about “Dallas Buyers Club”, it’s that it’s a very lifelike approach to the subject matter. It’s a very candid approach to its story: that of a man who suffers from the HIV virus, and then AIDS. All because of intravenous drugs, which he continues to use even after he is diagnosed. He doesn’t think he even has the disease for the longest time, because he believes that only homosexuals can contract it. But he starts to realize that it’s serious. And his largest problem arguably isn’t with his health, at this point; it’s with the U.S. government. He has found medicines that would allow him to survive for another seven years, rather than the predicted thirty days. It just isn’t FDA approved, so he has to market it to desperate AIDS victims in secret.
“Dallas Buyers Club” is a thought-provoking movie, delving into whether cheating the system to save lives is just as depraved as any kind of drug dealing, no matter how magnanimous. Matthew McConaughey plays in the lead role, and he mostly carries the film as the central AIDS victim, Ron Woodroof. Years ago, he was the star of “Failure to Launch” and similar throwaway romcoms. Just this year, he’s transformed himself as leads in “Mud” and “Dallas Buyers Club”. The man’s remarkable talent shows in every mark of his performance. Only better is Jared Leto. Never until now have I seen an actor fully transform into the role as a transgender, but I say with full confidence that Leto’s role is a shoo-in for the Supporting Actor Oscar.
This is a movie all about acting, rarely about script. Everything plays out episodically, and for the entire opening, we get a tight “day by day” look at the supposed last thirty days of Woodroof’s life. I had a few unanswered questions as well. Nothing here explains or rationalizes the inclusion of Woodroof’s extreme homophobia, and only to beg for reason is that this makes agreeing with him ten times more uncomfortable. But when the two characters interact, god does it appeal to the viewers’ emotions.