Dallas Buyers Club
In mid-1980s Texas, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he has just 30 days left to live, Woodroof refuses to give in to despair. He seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S. from wherever he can find them. Woodroof joins forces with a fellow AIDS patient (Jared Leto) and begins selling the treatments to the growing number of people who can't wait for the medical establishment to save them.
Release Date: November 01, 2013
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In addition to two knockout performances (McConaughey and Jared Leto), Dallas Buyers Club has at its core a man fighting a broken system, standing up for his beliefs, overcoming prejudice, and facing impossible odds. It’s a life-affirming period piece that covers an important portion of history, and has Oscar nominations to supply its street cred... See Full ReviewFebruary 18th, 2014 · Details
Predictably for a product of contemporary Hollywood, "Dallas Buyers Club" fails to condemn sexual excess of any kind. It also promotes acceptance, not only of people as individuals but of their actions, even when those actions -- whether heterosexually or homosexually oriented -- are incompatible with the moral teaching of Scripture and sacred tradition... See Full ReviewJanuary 28th, 2014 · Details
MIKEY'S MOVIE REVIEW—DALLAS BUYERS CLUB—5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Dallas Buyers Club is an astonishing true story about the early years of the AIDS crisis packed with a healthy dose of evolving attitudes about the disease, homosexuality and good old fashioned optimism. And if Matthew McConaughey and his co-star Jared Leto don’t earn Oscar nominations (if not wins) for Buyers Club, I will be in utter shock. You simply will not see a better performance from an actor this year than McConaughey’s honest portrayal of a broken man who has nothing left to lose.
We meet Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) as a sweaty, scrawny sex machine — profane, homophobic, coke-snorting, whiskey-drinking and ignorant. The film’s gritty opening scene, showing Woodroof in the raw act of carefree sex with two women at a rodeo, genuinely reflects the way his character believes and the way he lives his life.
And he is gaunt gaunt gaunt! It’s not a good look for McConaughey. It’s not a good look for anybody. Apparently McConaughey lost nearly 50 pounds in a 5 month span for this role after taking it over from the likes of Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt himself. Good move on McConaughey’s part, as we have never seen him play so flawlessly against the typecast he was thrust into over the past 10 years or so.
This being 1985 Texas, Ron, a card-playing electrician who works on oil rigs, is all about bars, rodeos and living in the moment. We see his unprotected sex. When he gets in a tussle, we see his blood get all over everything. We fret because we know what’s coming.
An accident puts him in the hospital, where they figure out his other health issue. “Frankly, we’re surprised you’re still alive,” the doctors (an incandescently subdued Jennifer Garner, and Dennis O’Hare from American Horror Story and True Blood) tell him. He probably has just thirty days to get his affairs in order. McConaughey’s reaction to this news forlorn is worth the Best Actor Oscar alone.
Of course Woodroof storms out, committed to denial. Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee’s film strikingly begins counting off the days — “Day 1, “Day 8″ — waiting for him to come around.
The first grand twist in Dallas Buyers Club is learning that Ron Woodroof isn’t just some ignorant homophobic hick. He actually goes to the library, does some research and when he can’t get on a drug trial that guarantees him the “miracle” drug, he buys stolen AZT. He winds up in Mexico, where a doc who lost his license is on the front lines of the AIDS war, and is sharing, with his patients, everything and anything that the world’s researchers can come up with. Woodroof starts smuggling the stuff to America. The FDA doesn’t approve? “Screw the FDA,” he drawls. I’m gonna be DOA.”
The great conflicts set up here are Woodroof’s efforts to fool the Border Patrol, the FDA, the DEA and the doctors who put regulations before the slim hopes of desperate, dying patients. Having obtained it for himself, Woodroof realizes that knowledge is power. He soon discovers that these people have no knowledge nor power. They are victims of circumstance, just as he is.
An utterly unrecognizable Jared Leto plays Rayon, a cross-dressing AIDS patient who sees Woodroof’s traveling/smuggling pharmacy as a crowning lifeline. He ignores Ron’s homophobia long enough for them to team up and steal an idea that had worked elsewhere. They set up a drug “Buyers Club” that protects them from drug dealing charges and gives AIDS patients a fighting chance with the latest promising drugs from abroad.
Leto gives a supporting performance that would most typically steal a movie. Were it not that the film rests on McConaughey’s hearty shoulders, all the attention would be his. After a four year absence from movies, Leto literally dissolves into this role. He lost over 30 pounds for the part and has the whole act down marvelously—from the strut of his character to the lisp in his tones. I was pleased to see him given several phenomenal scenes in which he could really make his character more than a stereotype. He succeeds with concise precision. It’s early, but I would wager the Supporting Actor Oscar is Leto’s to lose for this one.
Out of the gloom something special—genuine, never forced—develops. A great touch — the way this friendship of convenience builds between the pair of opposites. McConaughey delivers the brazen, foul-mouthed laughs while Leto tugs at your heart. The film’s director, Vallee, working from a script by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack, may be taking things in heart-warming directions, but he’s in no hurry to do it. The friendship that unfolds between Ron and Rayon is intentionally and brazenly uncomfortable at first, but evolves into something unexplainable (almost a love story of odd sorts minus the physical attraction and sex). While in the wrong hands it may have felt contrived/forced, the two actors sell it with unwavering competence and savvy. We witness two shallow and sad people who find more comfort and assurance in one another than they ever had found through sex or anything else before. It’s a peculiar, remarkable, and unforgettable relationship that is the heart of Buyers Club.
Another award-worthy performance comes from Jennifer Garner who plays Eve Saks, a hospital doctor to Leto (and McConaughey at times). She takes a curious (yet believable) liking to Ron Woodroof. She seems mystified by his larger than life attitude and he wants her to believe in their newfound research. Garner (who was just as amazing in 2007’s Juno) delivers a difficult solemn performance, knowing that the movie belongs to her male counterparts. She only has one or two showcase scenes, yet provides much to the story as she witnesses it all unravel, struggling to find what she deems best for her HIV/AIDS patients. Garner really is an underrated actress, and her portrayal here is absolutely noteworthy, only adding to her record as a fine Hollywood actress.
I was enamoured by the film as Woodroof and Rayon try to change the lifelong habits that might doom them, with limited success. There are gut-wrenching, intense scenes played out in Buyers Club, from beginning to end. I learned much from watching, and left wanting to know more. There are moments near the end of the film in which delicate symbolism and detail are used to evoke a hopeful emotion from the audience. These latter scenes strike a chord and work on every level intended.
And that somberness still takes nothing away from this pro-active, uplifting and thoroughly entertaining jaunt through AIDS history, and the epic commitment of its actors to do right by it. Dallas Buyers Club is undoubtedly one of the best pictures of the year. I was touched and inspired beyond expectations. DARE TO LIVE indeed…
(Written December 1, 2013)January 6th, 2014 · Details
If you’re going to buy a ticket for this film, grit your teeth, hang on and get ready for a real rough ride.
While I’m giving this movie 3½ stars, I can’t stress enough that this film is rated R for just about every reason you can imagine. If the performance of McConaughey doesn’t create buzz at Oscar time, I will be stunned... See Full ReviewNovember 18th, 2013 · Details
The film wisely makes it clear that the symptoms of a fatal disease do not include a complete personality transformation; indeed, it is the qualities that got Woodroof into trouble that are the keys to his success in finding a way around the rules. More important, with nothing left to lose, Woodroof finds for the first time that he has something to give.
Parents should know that this movie includes constant very strong language, explicit sexual references and situations with nudity, drinking, smoking, and drug use, themes of fatal illness and sad deaths, and some fighting and tense confrontations... See Full Review
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is well acted and sometimes plays like a thriller. However, it‚Äôs hard to enjoy it because the language and sexual references are extremely crude, pervasive and annoying. This greatly minimizes the movie‚Äôs own left-leaning, pro-homosexual agenda. That said, there‚Äôs a positive conservative, libertarian message in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. It attacks the overbearing, big government policies of the Federal Drug Administration during the first years of the AIDS epidemic. Ultimately, the messages in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB get lost in its abhorrent reliance on abundantly crude content... See Full Review
‚ÄúDallas Buyers Club‚Äù can be faulted for hiding the death sentences that AIDS handed out in the ‚Äô80s, for casting things a tad too on the nose ‚Äî with Steve Zahn as Woodroof‚Äôs cop pal and Dallas Roberts as his drawling, sympathetic lawyer.
But that takes nothing away from this pro-active, uplifting and thoroughly entertaining jaunt through AIDS history, and the epic commitment of its actors to do right by it. ‚ÄúDallas Buyers Club‚Äù is one of the best pictures of the year... See Full ReviewNovember 6th, 2013 · Details