North Texas Daily

Movie Review: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Movie Review: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Movie Review: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
November 07
20:22 2013

Cole Clay / Intern Writer

Rating: 4/5

Matthew McConaughey (“How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days,” 2003) predominately has been seen on the big screen canoodling with Hollywood’s brightest starlets in a slew of rom-coms. This has made him two things: a boatload of money and a joke. The Texas native resurrected his career over the past three years in hopes of trading his bouquet of flowers for a golden statue.

“Dallas Buyers Club” has generated a large amount of buzz ever since pictures of a dried-up McConaughey surfaced last year. Fans and critics alike have speculated that this could be the performance of a lifetime for the typically “beefy” star. McConaughey does indeed carry the film on his bony shoulders, but the performance doesn’t live up to that premonition. That honor belongs to his portrayal of the vagrant with the heart of gold in the spectacular film from earlier this year, “Mud.”

The movie is set in 1985 when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was scaring the living daylights out of millions of Americans, including Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), a womanizing, cocaine snorting, whiskey-guzzling cowboy. When Woodroof becomes unexpectedly afflicted with the fateful virus he quickly retreats to his church, the local strip club. It’s in these moments of brooding where McConaughey is very effective at displaying the creaky parts of Woodroof’s psyche. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize why McConaughey was chosen for the role.

After being given 30 days to live and having traveled quite rapidly through the seven stages of grief, he declares “I’m going to die, but I’d prefer to do it with my boots on.” This marks a turning point in Woodroof’s life. He isn’t going to put down that bottle of whiskey, nor is he going to stop spouting off bigoted slurs. But what he does become is the patron saint for the disenfranchised HIV patients of “Big D” by illegally obtaining various cocktails of medication unapproved by the FDA.

This is where the film gets a little murky in terms of its overall quality. We spend too much time focusing on the business aspect of Woodroof’s life, rather than focusing on the friendship he develops with prissy cross-dresser Rayon (Leto). As we trudge down Woodroof’s road to salvation, the narrative gets caught up in too much melodrama that switches from moments of joy to sadness far too often.

Rayon is a sweet, soft-spoken man whose biggest concerns are helping out his friends and if his dress looks good. Leto couldn’t have chosen a better role to mark his return to acting after being on hiatus to focus on his rock band, 30 Seconds To Mars. He is absolutely astounding in the role and his performance will more than likely put him in contention for an Oscar come next year.

Jennifer Garner also makes an appearance in the film as a doctor who is caught in the crossfire between her obligations to the FDA and her curiosity with Woodroof’s lucrative business. She is fine in the role, but ultimately could have been replaced by a broom or some other inanimate object.

After losing 50 pounds for the role of Woodroof we now know how committed McConaughey is to his craft as an actor. He delivers a performance that audiences will revere for many years to come, even though it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. “Dallas Buyers Club” is an evocative film that shines a light on the not-so-glamorous side of North Texas. Come for the McConaughey, stay for the Leto and forget the Garner.

“Dallas Buyers Club” opens in limited release Friday.

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