In 1985, Dallas, Texas, macho-man Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike) discovers that he has contracted AIDS. Initially, he can’t accept his condition because he thinks it is a “gay disease.” After much research he realizes the truth and embarks on a quest to find a way to combat the disease. He has two unlike allies: a sympathetic doctor (Jennifer Garner, Juno) and HIV positive transsexual Rayon (Jared Leto, Fight Club).
Reaction & Thoughts:
With three Academy Awards (aka Oscars) and multiple nominations under its belt, I was expecting a lot from Dallas Buyers Club. I’m also a huge fan of Jean-Marc Vallée’s extraordinarily good C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005). It’s an understatement to say that I found the film lacking in so many areas.
Dallas Buyers Club is loosely based on the true story of electrician and part-time rodeo cowboy Woodroof. The Oscar-nominated screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack is repetitive and superficial. It is the sort of unsubtle thing created for the consumption of the mainstream market.
The entire film consists of Woodroof going from A to Z to get drugs. He curses the FDA, he buys more stuff, and the government shows up to confiscate everything. It goes on and on like this for nearly two hours. There is, or course, the classic Hollywood change-of-hearts halfway through the movie. Nothing terribly interesting occurs here.
McConaughey is good. I wouldn’t say it is an award-caliber performance, but I don’t begrudge his Oscar — I’ve seen worse. He is a good actor who deserved an Oscar; I juts thought he had given far better performances in better films.
Leto’s trophy is a bit harder to swallow. The character is a prop strategically placed throughout the story so we can feel better about Woodroof’s slow acceptance of homosexuality. He’s not a convincing transsexual either. Leto acts as if he is wearing high heels for the very first time in his life. But the Academy loves acting that shows an effort and Leto’s — and McConaughey’s — physical transformation screams “look at me, I’m a dedicated actor.” The Best Makeup Oscar is even more absurd.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I much prefer Norman René’s Longtime Companion (1989), a more thoughtful exploration of the AIDS crisis. Anyhow, I seem to be in the minority — judge for yourself. With Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London), Steve Zahn, and Dallas Roberts (Milton, TV’s The Walking Dead). Color, 117 minutes, Rated R.