Saturday 1 March 2014

Dallas Buyers Club - Movie Review

This review was first published on Know Your City, burrp!'s features section.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

Rating: ****

When Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia released in 1993, HIV/AIDS was still a closeted disease. In 2014 there’s much more information about the deadly virus and lesser apprehensions. While Tom Hanks’ Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia fought against the discrimination of HIV patients, Matthew McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club fights for something more basic, their right to survive through medicines.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), an electrician and hustler in 1985’s Texas, is happy with his manliness; attracted to women, alcohol and drugs. So when he is accidentally diagnosed HIV positive he violently proclaims that he isn’t a "faggot" and walks out showing a middle finger to the doctors. Reality strikes him in next few hours when his friends and colleagues steer away from him.

His homophobia loses its ugly face when he starts Dallas Buyers Club with Rayon (Jared Leto), a drag queen and HIV patient. He works his way around the system to sell medication to HIV patients; drugs that are not approved by the US Food And Drug Administration (FDA). Doctor Eve (Jennifer Garner), who doesn’t approve of the testing of HIV drugs on her patients, supports Woodroof.

Dallas Buyers Club treads a zone which is still a taboo in India; homosexuality and AIDS. Hence the struggle still makes sense here if not in America. While the film never gets preachy, it’s intense at times. The numerous medical references, drugs, alcohol make it a heavy watch but Woodroof and Rayon provide for some lighter moments too.

Jared Leto excels as a tormented man hidden beneath layers of makeup, shiny lipstick and colourful attire. Jennifer Garner is convincing in easily one of her best performances. As a quiet supporter of Woodroof’s initiatives, she underplays Eve well.

Mathew McConaughey stands tall carrying almost the whole film on his lean (he lost tremendous amount of weight for the film) shoulders. He portrays the frustrations, longings and determination of an HIV patient aptly especially in the scene where he breaks down in his car. As an audience your emotions for his character grow from pity to sympathy and finally appreciation. It’s unbelievable to see a rom-com star delivering one of the most Oscar worthy performances this year. If you couldn’t forget McConaughey’s hard hitting 5 minute role in The Wolf Of Wall Street then you must watch Dallas Buyers Club.

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