Writer: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"How to Survive a Plague" and "The Young Victoria".
It's 1985 and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a hard-drinking Texan electrician who loves the thrill of bull-riding as much as his women and drugs. When an accident on the oil rig site where he works takes him on a trip to the hospital, Woodroof is informed by the doctors there that he has contracted the HIV virus, despite him having avoided contact with homosexual men as if they were the plague, and has only 30 days to live.
In a desperate bid to find a cure through some research, Woodroof discovers that he and his fellow carriers of the disease have been denied in acquiring medication with documented results of increasing the survival rate against AIDS in the United States because they are not approved by the FDA. With very little to lose, Woodroof travels across the border and manages to find an alternative (and safer) treatment to sustain his collapsing immune system to prevent him from dying, and realises that there is a potential there to save others and make some money on the side.
Based on the life of the real Ron Woodroof who had the same diagnosis and prospects of living, "Dallas Buyers Club" takes the reins from there to tell the story how Woodroof went on to set up his 'Buyers Club' that gave access to patients in Dallas with drugs that could save them, and went on to live for another seven years passed his expected expiry. The making of "Dallas Buyers Club" had changed hands several times since the 90s, with names like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling once attached to lead and to be directed by Denis Hooper and Marc Foster, before it was finally taken up by "The Young Victoria" director Jean-Marc Vallee with a recently reinvented Matthew McCanaughey on the saddle.
Losing more than 20 kg for the role of Woodroof is not the only transformation that Matthew McConaughey will make in "Dallas Buyers Club", as it is endearing to see him take his character on a journey of self-transformation as well. McConaughey effortlessly juggles each phase of Woodroof's transformation from prickly homophobe, desperate survivor, convincing smuggler to a hard-biting activist against the FDA in their ever persistent efforts to put the lock and key on Woodroof's practice that swaddles in the grey areas of the law. Although what Woodroft ends up doing what may seem altruistic to others, McConaughey never appears to let Woodroof have the mantle of righteousness put on him, but keeps the cowboy humanized as someone who has a self-centric will to live, even if doing so happens to help others in the same boat as him.
Another marvellous transformation is from Jared Leto, who makes a stunning return to acting after four years, as the transgender Rayon and Woodroof's fictional business partner, but Jennifer Garner only gives a redeeming performance as Woodroof's confiding physician, Dr. Eve.
While the script of Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack is serviceable to get the best out of McConaughey and Leto, it remains vague from establishing the severe context of the 1980s AIDS crisis and standing neutral on the barriers put up by the FDA, only to use it as the undertones that drives Woodroof's actions. Although we see the sufferings of the LGBT community through the eyes of Leto's Rayon, it rarely assesses the gravity of the discrimination that had escalated against the LGBT when they are left to die at their own doorsteps for the interest of the pharmaceutical companies.
This leaves it up to Vallee's direction to keep "Dallas Buyers Club" in a steady pace until it reaches its abrupt conclusion to keep us focused on the story of a man who defied the odds against him that had helped others, even if he was far from an angel upon his death.
It's hard to tell whether "Dallas Buyers Club" could have been great if it had a stronger crew behind it, or it was saved from mediocrity by the Oscar deserving outing from its main performers. Either way, this one would surely be added into that list of McConaughey's best performances that is worth looking out for, even if that hype has benefited all those around him in "Dallas Buyers Club". Cinema Online, 07 February 2014