Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Directed Jean-Marc Vallée. With Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn and Jennifer Garner.
I’ve read and heard it said of Jean-Marc Vallée Dallas Buyers Club, that it is a film defined by its performances, above than anything else. In my opinion, that’s doing a great disservice to a film that is intelligently made, but that also has a beautifully fleshed-out screenplay by Craig Borton and Melisa Wallack.
Set in Dallas in the mid ’80’s, (don’t expect to see J.R) the film tells the ‘inspired by true events’ story of Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) a charismatic, but casually belligerent man, who upon being diagnosed with the HIV virus, is forced to confront something which drastically changes his approach to life.
First of all, in the central role, McConaughey is every bit as mesmerising as you’d expect an actor in an Academy Award winning performance to be. His commitment to the role, in losing reportedly 40lb in weight, is at first visually striking, but beyond that, it is his ability to become Ron, beyond the surface which really sets him apart. Indeed, it’s one of those truly great turns, that no matter how many superlatives you throw at it, they’ll all stick. But like any great film, this isn’t a piece of just one towering performance, for supporting McConaughey is Jared Leto in an equally eye-catching, yet utterly convincing portrayal of trans woman, Rayon. Thrown together through circumstance, and a mutual need for each other’s various life skills, the pair make for an at once hilarious, yet touching screen duo.
How many ‘true events’, fact-for-fact, are translated directly into the narrative is unclear, but what is crystal clear are the messages that the film attempts to convey. In a sense, Dallas Buyers Club feels like an important film. Despite the grim situations the characters often find themselves in, the overall message is a positive one, making life affirming statements, while never completely bowing to, or over-pronouncing sentimentalism. 4.5/5