Matthew McConaughey has had something of a career boost in the last couple of years, ditching the bad rom-coms and reminding us that he can act. This journey seems to be hitting its peak with Dallas Buyers Club, possibly set to give McConaughey his first Oscar.
The film is set in Dallas 1985, when Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is told he is HIV positive and has 30 days to live. Not prepared to just give up and die Woodroof does whatever he can to prolong his life which leads him to a Mexican hospital that provided non FDA approved drugs that seem to be working. He realizes he can make some money importing and selling these drugs to other patients bringing him into direct conflict with the FDA.
McConaughey and Jennifer Garner have managed to redeemed themselves for their previous film together Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, and Dallas Buyers Club is a much better film than that dud. But it also feels a rather average film at times. Its not one that I feel I would need to see again anytime soon, nor did it ever hit me emotionally like fellow Oscar nominee 12 Years a Slave did. The film just rumbles along as you expect, being predictable in the way it tells you this story. It’s odd that an amazing true story brings about an average film.
However what is outstanding are the performances. McConaughey has rightly been praised for his role. When we are first introduced to Woodroof he is not immediately a character you warm to with his homophobia and hostile nature, and though he goes through some changes after his diagnosis he doesn’t necessarily come over as likeable even if he becomes more sympathetic. His reasons for bringing the drugs to Dallas is to make money, saving lives is more of an afterthought. It’s refreshing that Woodroof isn’t made to be some sort of saint even though he does good things. At first what you notice about McConaughey’s is his massive weight loss, however you soon get drawn into his performance as Woodroof and can’t help but admire his determination not to fade away like the doctors expect of him.
Just like McConaughey, Jared Leto gives a great performance as Reyon, a transgendered HIV positive patient who becomes Woodroof’s business partner. Knowing that Reyon wasn’t a real person but one created for the film does perhaps lessen the impact of her plight some what, however there’s no denying that Leto gives a mesmerizing performance, and you hope he doesn’t have another seven year break before his next acting role. Although she hasn’t had as much attention as her male co-stars Garner also gives a sterling performance as the sympathetic doctor to Reyan and Woodroof.
It’s easy to see why it’s the performances rather than the filmmaking that has been gathering attention this award season. Go see it for the amazing performances but don’t be surprise if the story doesn’t grab you in the way it should.
Rating 3/5 –could be an Oscar on the way for the fabulous McConoughey in this otherwise average movie