DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Continuing Matthew McConaughey’s renaissance as a serious actor- Killer Joe, Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street are already under his belt- and this performance as Ron Woodroff in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyer’s Club looks like it may be the performance which might actually win him an Oscar. It is a performance which has almost been overshadowed by Mc Conaughey’s dramatic weight loss in the striving for authenticity in attaining the physique of an AIDS sufferer. However the proof is in the pudding-one spoonful a day apparently- and it is a towering performance proving, if proof were still needed, that McConaughey is a credible actor.
Despite this McConaughey does not carry the weight off this whole film on his shoulders alone as Jared Leto, in the supporting role of fellow AIDS sufferer and pre-op transsexual Rayon, is also mesmerising. In fact it could be said that this film more than any other Oscar contender is solely about the performances as these two reign supreme in their roles.
Yet another ‘true life’ tale this film starts in 1985 around the time of Rock Hudson’s death and the propagation of the idea that AIDS and HIV are notoriously thought of as some sort of ‘gay plague’. It therefore comes as something of a shock to homophobic rodeo rider Woodroff when he is diagnosed positive and his initial belief that only homosexuals can contract the disease have to be reassessed when he realises that unprotected sex-heterosexual or homosexual- with an intravenous drug user can be just as fatal.
After initially being in denial about his plight and unable to get on a funded drug programme he takes matters into his own hands and works out a way of prolonging his life whilst also making a profit via various loops in the law alongside ignorance in medical circles. It is only when he teams up with Rayon however that he is able to put his own prejudices aside and stop behaving like such a ‘homophobic asshole’ and start assisting others alongside himself.
What starts up as a purely cynical business arrangement between this odd couple becomes through understanding, compassion and necessity, a true friendship as Ron finds himself dragged into a demimonde and nether world which had been a closed book to him previously due to the circles he had previously mixed in; due to his illness the rejection and humiliation his so called friends forced upon meant he found himself alone, enabling him to gain a more fulfilling perspective on life in general.
As stated before this is a film mainly about its performances although it is also an extremely touching tale –there is an emotionally symbolic death scene- set against occasional moments of genuine humour –Woodroff masturbating unknowingly to the ambiguous beauty of Marc Bolan who serves as an idol to Rayon- and the interaction between the three central characters –Jennifer Garner as a sympathetic doctor also gives a notable performance-is never less than engaging.
Whilst Mc Connaughey and Leto are definite contenders in the Oscar race the film despite all its intentions is probably too left field to win in the best film category but this in no way should put you off seeing what is a worthwhile film of integrity and emotional drive.