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Dallas Buyers Club– Movie Review

Submitted by on November 30, 2013 – 5:56 pmNo Comment

All reviews seem to agree that Matthew McConaughey offers a tour de force performance in Dallas Buyers Club. But for me, even with the addition of an equally riveting supporting performance from Jared Leto, it just wasn’t enough to maintain this slow film that veers into cliche as it tells a story of the early struggle against AIDS and for gay rights.

Ron Woodruff (McConaughey) is an electrician, rodeo cowboy, bookee, and minor drug dealer living a glib and fun life in Dallas in 1985, when he is diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. Woodruff starts a slow journey not only to acquiring the unapproved medications that could prolong his life and alleviate his symptoms, but to finding the will to go on. When he discovers better treatments around the world, he begins smuggling en masse and selling it to Dallas residents through a semi-legal “buyers club.” Ostracized by his former friends, harassed by the FDA and drug companies, and aided by a transexual and a rebellious doctor, Woodruff goes from an intolerant cowboy turning a buck to a more accepting man leading the forefront of the fight against AIDS.

McConaughey flashes much of his signature bravado and humor as Woodruff, winning over almost everyone around him with a devil-may-care attitude and sly grin. This vitally buoys otherwise dark and difficult subject matter. And it is mixed in with rage, despair, and resilience. Leto shines with a more nuanced and subtle performance as Woodruff’s sensitive, savvy, drug-addicted business partner.

The AIDS crisis and early gay rights struggle is odd territory for a movie, as it is still under-reported history, and yet has had time to develop predictability in film. DBC goes to few places that haven’t already been covered on stage and screen by Philadelphia, Milk, Angels in America, and The Normal Heart. The very well-reviewed 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague also seems to cover similar history, while some of DBC’s exposition was clunky. DBC portrays the struggle in a stark contrast of heroes and villains, with healthy amounts of schmaltzy character development; while this may be true to history, it seemed like it would have been more appropriate in a big budget studio tearjeaker than a smaller historical drama.

Did you see Dallas Buyers Club? What did you think?

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