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.
Reaction & Thoughts:
With three Academy Awards (aka Oscars) and multiple international awards 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 Ron Woodroof, who died of HIV/AIDs complications on September 12, 1992. Although Woodroof’s life story is interesting, the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack is repetitive and superficial. The film 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 (Food and Drug Administration), 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.
Matthew McConaughey is good. I wouldn’t say it was 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 just thought he had given far better performances in better films. Jennifer Garner (Juno) is fine as a sympathetic doctor.
Jared Leto’s (Fight Club) trophy is a bit harder to swallow. Leto plays a transsexual who befriends McConaughey’s Woodroof. The character is a prop strategically placed throughout the story so we can feel better about Woodroof’s slow acceptance of homosexuality. He is not convincing as transsexual either. But the Academy loves acting that shows the effort and Leto’s and McConaughey’s physical transformations scream “look at me, I’m a dedicated actor.”
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.