Monday, 13 January 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2014)

Dallas Buyers Club, featurette

Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
IMDB Rating: 8/10
My Rating: 7/10
Runtime: 117 minutes

Synopsis: It’s 1985 and Ron Woodroof, cowboy, electrician and hustler catches the lethal AIDS virus, HIV, during a time when the disease was a huge taboo. Ron is given 30 days to live but his tenacious attitude and disregard for authority bestows him to take matters into his own hands.

The film is a true story and stars Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof. McConaughey lost over 21KG to play the part which puts him far up the list of body transformations in Hollywood movies. Remarkably, one of the supporting leads, Jared Leto, who plays a junkie transvestite with HIV, also lost 13KG giving them a combined total weight-loss of five and a half stone for the film. No, this isn’t the ripped McConaughey we all know, this is a The Machinist version of the star. He’s unhealthy, filthy and deserving of an Oscar for his sublime performance.

Aside from the excellent cast, which also includes a strong performance from Jennifer Garner, the film is well made and has an absorbing story. The mood of the film is gritty and cramped with sick patients who nobody seems to care about. It’s crazy to think how different our attitude was to AIDS only a few decades ago. In a white, poorly educated area of Texas, the image of masculinity is inherently traditional and largely homophobic. Ron is immediately outcast from his hillbilly friends when they discover he has contracted the virus. Ron, who is equally homophobic, is forced to interact with the gay community as he needs a clientele to sell his self-tested remedies. Ron becomes an infamous supplier of nutrients and alternative drugs to those who can afford the join up fee for 'membership', and finds himself at war with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). 

My only criticism of the film is that the story and its protagonist takes a dramatic shift as Ron transforms from hick to saviour. The contrast was a little too sharp in my opinion but it’s a great film nonetheless and one to be watched on the big screen. 

I’m on anti-depressants and suffer from severe anxiety, should I watch this film on a Sunday night? Hmm, possibly not, but you’d survive it. 

- by Gavin Fitzgerald

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