Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Running Time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare
Set in Dallas in the 1980s, the film follows Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) an electrician whose lifestyle revolves around smoking, drinking, drugs and casual sex. Ron was admitted into hospital on a work-related injury when he discovers that he is HIV-positive and has 30 days to live. Angry and in denial, he finds himself shun from his colleagues, but upon realizing that the diagnosis is true, he begins to research about the disease and the available drugs used to treat the disease. One of the drugs, AZT is only in the clinical trials stage within the US, so Ron begins searching for ways he could get his hands on the drugs. It eventually leads him to Mexico and he finds more effective treatments for the symptoms. So, Ron begins to smuggle the non-FDA approved drugs back into the US and starts selling them to other HIV-positive individuals back in Dallas. During which he begins a partnership with a HIV-positive transvestite, Rayon (Leto). Together, they started the Dallas Buyers Club whereby individuals seeking for these alternative treatments are able to get them simply by paying a monthly membership fee.
What’s so great about this film is the struggle and inner turmoil the characters face throughout the film, how patients with HIV and AIDS are/were treated back in the days, and how drugs are marketed to the public. It truly is a powerful story that will change the way you look at the matter. The other aspect of the film that really made it standout is the leading actors. Matthew McConaughey with possibly the best performance in his career, in this film you could really see how effortless it is for McConaughey to slip in and out of an emotion, and not to mention the dedication to portray this character. It truly is going to be quite a race for the Best Actor in the Oscars this year. Meanwhile, Jared Leto who portrayed the transvestite Rayon provided a lot of the comic relief in the film, but ultimately he played a major part in the heart of the story. The emotions and dedication Leto had put into the character really showed throughout the film. Every scene Leto was in, he immediately stole audience’s attention from everything else. It is not a surprise why Leto received the countless award nominations for his role here, and I really hope he will win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars this year.
The other commendable aspect of the film is the decision to make it look gritty and dirty, bringing out the realism of the situations. The makeup, hair and costumes department for the film did a fantastic job to make the characters look even more gaunt and ill. The other surprising thing was that the film was that it took just over 25 days to film and most of the time there were no lights, and just one camera. It is amazing to see how little is needed to create a film such as this one.
Overall, Dallas Buyers Club is a powerful story about one man’s journey and battle against HIV/AIDS, the society’s perception of such individuals, and how the government and FDA’s actions impact the community.
Rating: 8 out of 10