Dallas Buyers Club movie review

“Well, shut my mouth…boy can act”. I reckon this is exactly what Ron Woodruff would say on seeing Matthew McConaughey portray his own life events on screen, in the magnificently real, Dallas Buyers Club. The figure of Woodruff is etched with this Texan cockiness that would surely make him beam that one of Hollywood’s ‘hottest’ men; a Texan native and an individual known for being shirtless almost 100% of the time, is breathing life into a plethora of struggles that would have come his way in a closed minded 80’s reality. Yes, it’s an Oscar contender film for so many reasons. Yes, it’s a stunning ‘period’ film that brings resounding adult realizations to my person; for example when watching the narrative unfold, seeing file footage included that I remember as a child from nightly news broadcasts; showing protesting men with Grim Reaper signs, tears, violence and things I couldn’t possibly understand as a four year old New Zealander. Let’s make no bones about it; this is a masterpiece of a film and one that will be revered, studied and will no doubt comfort many people for years to come. It’s the kinda film that while it’s bleak, stark and extremely confronting; I found myself immediately wanting to own it on Blu Ray, so I could relive Ron’s crushing life epiphanies and soaring moments of triumph over and over again.

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Each actor brings an incredible sensitivity to their role; McConaughey however, as everyone everywhere has been saying – snaffles up this film under his ten gallon hat and hightails it into the sunset with the whole damn thing. McConaughey takes us on a ride; at once repulsing and endearing the audience, as Woodruff is about as low as they come in terms of human decency, when we meet him at the opening of Dallas Buyers Club. Panting ladies wanting a dose of the McConaughey they know and love from his various man-candy roles, will not be pleased. Not only is Woodruff a scumbag, he’s a sickly, gaunt, bigoted, phlegm hocking scumbag. Yet his wit and charms shine through and ultimately, in his darkest hour enable him to become something greater than himself and greater than the disease he inflicted upon himself, by his own ignorance and arrogance. Thankfully, there’s some genuine moments of poignant and heart warming comedy intravenously fed into this film; mostly provided by the outstanding friendship between Ron and his extraordinary partner in crime Rayon, played to absolute perfection by Jared Leto; in his return to acting after five years.

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Leto completely inhabits Rayon to the point of there being no Jared Leto anymore…for goodness sakes this is the man that played the Blonde Angel-boy in Fight Club and Paul Allen in American Psycho; and here he so beautifully creates such a staggeringly real portrait of a Transgender Woman; than when he appears briefly wearing a suit and seems so awkward and squeamish, he just looks alien and wrong…leaving you wanting Rayon back into her comfy hot pink lipstick and ripped up tights on the double. Leto’s return to acting is so successful in fact, that he should just shut up shop and call it a day…you’ve bloody done it Leto, you’ve clocked method acting. Head home, no more to see here. As previously mentioned, all of the cast of Dallas Buyers Club do a brilliant turn in their respective roles. Jennifer Garner has unbridled sass and independence as Eve, showing an authentic female character that director Jean-Marc Vallee and writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallace; could have so easily boobied out and dumbed down to balance all the gritty realism…but I’m so thankful that they didn’t. A favourite for me being a fan of horror in a huge way comes in the guise of Griffin Dunne, also known as Jack from An American Werewolf in London; appearing as Dr. Vass – a free living, Mexico based doctor that sets Ron on the good path.

You might of noticed I’ve tried to steer clear of any major plot points; and that’s a conscious decision, as I went into Dallas Buyers Club having shielded myself from the majority of press about it and it’s a luxury I hope many have had. Beautifully shot, thoughtfully plotted to memory inducing music and strung out along narrative lines that are so Hitchcockian feeling at times the sense of dread will envelope, enrapture you and deliver you to a new place of empathy and understanding. Well, if you’re any kind of human being it will…and if Ron can, you can too.

Rayon (Leto) and Ron (McConaughey) (Credit: Focus Features)



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