Friday, November 8, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club Movie Review

Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey (r) in Dallas Buyers Club

Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club

If Matthew McConaughey doesn't get an Oscar nomination for his brilliant portrayal of Ron Woodroof in Jean-Marc Vallée's Dallas Buyers Club... then Hollywood (or at least the AMPAS) should be ashamed of itself. I've been on the McConaughey bandwagon for quite a while now; and it's high time the Dazed and Confused star earns some serious recognition. His latest turn is both physically impressive (he lost 50 pounds for the part) and flawlessly exhibited on screen. As an early AIDS patient who 'prefers to die with his boots on,' McConaughey showcases a wide range of emotions with mesmerizing clarity in his finest performance to date. Let the accolades begin...

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Matthew McConaughey stars in Dallas Buyers Club as real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. These were the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and the U.S. was divided over how to combat the virus. Ron, now shunned and ostracized by many of his old friends, and bereft of government-approved effective medicines, decided to take matters in his own hands, tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. Bypassing the establishment, the entrepreneurial Woodroof joined forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts - who he once would have shunned - and established a hugely successful "buyers' club." Their shared struggle for dignity and acceptance is a uniquely American story of the transformative power of resilience.

What’s Best: When we first meet him, Ron seems to have the world by its balls... which makes him the perfect candidate to fight back against the most ruthless of diseases. After learning he has 30 days to live, Ron does what any other guy would do... He drinks, smokes, snorts coke and parties with two girls. His next six days are filled with betrayal, denial, resolution and (of all things) hope, as he manages to get his hands on black market AZT (which he gobbles up like Pez.) His next six years are occupied with a rogue business that provides affordable meds (and vitamins) to others like himself. Here, he butts heads with the FDA and naysayer doctors, finding solace in the most unlikely of arms...

Those arms belong to Jared Leto, who plays a transgender woman that partners up with Ron in the drug-selling business. The back and forth between Leto and McConaughey is superb, and adds plenty of levity to an otherwise sad tale. Don't be surprised to see Leto garner Oscar consideration as well.

What’s Not: Well, it's a movie about AIDS (at a time when almost nobody survived it.) Sure there's humor; but the final 30 minutes is downright sobering, so don't expect to leave the movie theater happy. That said, it would be a crying shame to miss it.

Best Line: 'Who the Hell is Rock Hudson anyhow?' 'He's an actor. Haven't you ever seen North by Northwest?' Ignorance is bliss, not to mention hilarious. Also good... Leto's 'I can handle your insults, but five percent?' when negotiating salary with McConaughey's Ron.

Overall: Dallas Buyers Club remembers the advent of HIV/AIDS as I do... There's no political correctness, no universal understanding. This was (is) a bitch of a disease, and society had zero sympathy for anyone who had it. McConaughey plays one of its few heroes with raw charisma and irreverence. It's another notch on one of Hollywood's most impressive belts, and a wonderful movie in its own right. Besides, where else can you find a guy who chases AZT with beer and a line of coke?

GradeA-