Dallas Buyers Club

January 09, 2014 By Mike B
Movie Review

Dallas Buyers Club Film Review

What Worked?

We all know that we’re going to die, but once something like HIV gives us a time frame, reality becomes consuming. Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a bull-riding cowboy and hustler that’s diagnosed with HIV in 1985, during the AIDS epidemic. Throughout this film, we join Woodroof in his struggle to stay alive, and help his fellow AIDS patients.

Director Vallee chooses to use a hand-held camera for a more gritty, realistic approach to the film, and it’s a perfect fit for this type of movie. Although he uses a hand-held camera, there are still some artistic touches that accent some of the emotions of the characters. Right from the get go, there’s a beautifully tragic juxtaposition of Woodroof having sex and a bull-rider becoming incapacitated. The script is funny, poignant, and unfiltered, making for a very effective film about the will to live, and friendship.

Matthew McConaughey gives one of his best performances ever, as a man fighting to survive and help others survive. McConaughey has a go-for-broke attitude in his approach to the character of Ron Woodroof, losing nearly 50 lbs to play the role. He looks drained, yet still has a ferocious bite about him that’s hard not to appreciate. Woodroof starts off as a stubborn, homophobic rodeo hustler, but ascends to become a man that stands up against HIV, in addition to homophobia and the FDA. McConaughey projects Woodroof’s undying drive to do what’s right, affecting the audience down to the bone.

Joining McConaughey is a very talented Jared Leto, playing Rayon, a transgender that Woodroof initially detests until they bond through their mutual yearning to survive the AIDS epidemic. Leto is heartbreaking and hilarious, expressing his desperation to be beautiful through his wandering eyes alone. McConaughey and Leto have amazing chemistry together, as they start off as antagonists for one another, move on to become business partners, and then friends. At times, it almost seems like they’re an old married couple. A particular scene where Woodroof stands up for Rayno is just amazing, and elevates the chemistry of the characters; that one scene should push the Academy over to giving them nominations.

Dallas Buyers Club is a film that places you in the harsh times of the life of Ron Woodroof and his battle with not only AIDS, but the freedom to fight for your own life. It’s in the books for us to die, but Woodroof shows us how we should live.

Potential Drawbacks:

Although McConaughey never runs out of steam in the film, some may think that the film itself does. When the film concentrates on Woodroof and Rayon, it’s fire, but when it turns into an “issue” film about the Food and Drug Administration, it’s not as strong.

Additionally, some may think that it has a by-the-numbers narrative. Even though it’s an Indie film, it feels like it has a Hollywood-style plot, which works against it. This means that the story is not as memorable as the performances, taking the film down a notch.

Film Recommendations:


Killer Joe


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