Dallas Buyers Club
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto & Jennifer Garner
Time: 116 Minutes
Matthew McConaughey puts together an Oscar worthy performance in his second major release of 2013. Matthew McConaughey has seemed to struggle with split personalities throughout his career. Sometimes he is the goofy laid back actor who seems to be playing a caricature of himself (Dazed and Confused, EdTV, The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Magic Mike) and then there are times when he truly embodies the role he is playing and shows how amazingly talented of an actor he really is (A Time to Kill and The Lincoln Lawyer). 2013 saw two McConaughey performances that can be added to the latter of his personalities. The first one was Mud, which I will include in my best of 2013, the second is Dallas Buyers Club. The movie rests completely on the shoulders of McConaughey and he turns in the greatest performance of his career to date.
Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) an alcoholic, drug addicted, rodeo cowboy/electrician in Dallas, Texas during the 80s. After getting hurt on the job Woodruff wakes up in the hospital to learn that he has been diagnosed with HIV and that he has about 30 days left to live. Unable to get the drugs he needs to survive Woodruff begins illegally importing drugs from out of the US and sets up a buyers club so other patients can get the medication they need as well. Along the way Woodruff is helped by two unlikely friends, a doctor played by Jennifer Garner, and a transsexual AIDS patient played by Jared Leto.
While Leto does an amazing job playing Rayon the transsexual-AIDS patient whom Woodruff befriends, it is McConaughey’s performance as the aggressively homophobic Woodruff that steals every scene. McConaughey lost 40 pounds for the role, but it is his emotional transformation that is awe inspiring. McConaughey usually plays the laid back, charming, nice to look at roles, but in Dallas Buyers Club he is anything but. Playing an all-around asshole who more physically resembles a skeleton than People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive (2005), McConaughey is able to play the role of a man fighting for his life without any sentimentality that we would normally see in this type of film. McConaughey never betrays the rough and tumble personality of Ron Woodruff, with his “y’all go fuck yourself” attitude you never really root for Woodruff until the end.
Dallas Buyers Club is a struggle to get through at times. It deals very honestly with the onset of the AIDS crisis and accurately shows how awful the disease is and its horrible effects on the people who were/are inflicted with it. While no film about AIDS ends on a happy note, the courage and fight of the characters in Dallas Buyers Club is inspiring and thought-provoking. Not all films are supposed to make you feel good at the end, some deal with important issues and tell important stories. This is one of those films.
Grade: A- (Must See)