Oscar bait – Period pieces or films based around a certain subject can be tricky if you don’t have everything in place. Sounds obvious and simple, but if it was, we would see a lot more films like “Dallas Buyers Club” come along. Because the reality is, there is a lot of fluff on the big screen right now so I take solace when a quality film like this gets released, as it tells me Oscar season must be right around the corner.
The story in this one…follows Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) and his reckless life, one that comes crashing down when he is diagnosed with AIDS. Shocked and frankly in a daze, Woodruff lashed out, but when he came back down to earth, managed to get a hold of the drug known as AZT. However, when that drug put him in the hospital almost killing him, he turned his attention to non FDA-approved drugs, ones not found in the U.S. Figuring out how much better he felt after taking these drugs, he snuggles them into the country and begins his own business. Known as the Dallas Buyers Club, Woodroof wanted to help those like him suffering from this terrible disease. So, he enlisted the help of fellow patient Rayon (Jared Leto) and his own Dr., Eve (Jennifer Garner) and the result was a one stop shop for AIDS patients to come and get alternative treatments which were not found in their local hospital or clinic. But, when these clubs started taking off all over the country and actually becoming successful, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) step in hoping to end Woodroof’s reign, only he would not go quietly leading to an emotional yet powerful conclusion.
Acting out – I’ll admit, I probably would have not even stepped into this theater had I not watched the trailer. Because even in that brief 3-minute montage, you know Matthew McConaughey is bringing everything he’s got for this role as Ron Woodruff. Now, that’s no surprise to his fans, but to those that think of him as some loose cannon, watch him here and see why he’s about to be nominated. This guy is great and here brought a lot of emotion and hard truth to his role. You believed every second of what his character was going through, which I think this film had to have. And supporting him every step of the way was Jared Leto, who clearly transformed into his character Rayon. Playing a transsexual, Leto never once made you doubt his role, which I give him a lot of credit for. Maybe that’s because he never broke character while on set or maybe it’s just because he’s a heck of an actor that a lot of people do not know. Either way I loved what he did and can easily see a few nominations come his direction, which I doubt fans of his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars would have ever expected. Then there was Jennifer Garner, who at first seemed way out of place, but to her credit, won you over by the end of the film. And I think that was important as you needed an outside perspective, which her character Eve provided quite easily.
Canadian touch – For those that like me that have never heard of Jean-Marc Vallee, let me introduce him. He directed this film and frankly should get a lot of kudos considering how polished it felt overall. And the funny thing is, the first time I saw his name was at the very end when the credits rolled. Yes, I’m that uninformed when I sit down to watch these films, but by doing that, it opens up the door to really be surprised which I was here. Sure, I thought it would be decent, but had no clue it would be this raw in nature. That’s a direct reflection of Vallee and the script, written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, who took the life of Ron Woodruff and put it on full display for everyone to see. And what’s crazy, it wasn’t just all about Woodruff and this movement he started back in the 80’s. Underneath that, was much more with the friendship between Rayon and Woodruff, the politics around the FDA and even people’s ignorance or prejudice of anyone who had HIV/AIDS given all that went with it. So, it’s definitely a lot to take in for 117 minutes, but I think that’s the point and another reason it will be among the nominees come Oscar time.
Bottom Line – “Dallas Buyers Club” may not look like much, but don’t let that you fool you and ultimately keep you from watching it. Because this is a story everyone should watch, not just for the acting, but for the respectful history lesson it gives about AIDS and the time period it all was discovered in.
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