'Dallas Buyers Club' Review: Matthew McConaughey And Jared Leto Are Superb In This Thrilling Story Of Survival
Dallas Buyers Club tells an inspiring story of survival, about overcoming adversity and the learning of tolerance starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.
You've always liked Matthew McConaughey. Admit it. Whether you're a fan of his from his romantic-comedy past or his turn in Dazed and Confused, there's something about him that you've always enjoyed. It's okay, you're in a safe space here. Over the last few years, McConaughey has taken his career up a notch, choosing unique, compelling characters more suited to a veteran character actor than a gorgeous marquee hunk. Dallas Buyers Club may be his best effort yet.
McConaughey is completely mesmerizing as real-life Texan Ron Woodroff, a bull-fighting, hard-partying, promiscuous cowboy who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 when AIDS was still known to predominantly effect the homosexual community. Woodroof, who begins the movie as a homophobic, intolerant person, undergoes a thrilling metamorphosis of character throughout the process of coping with his illness.
The movie provides an informative historical narrative, detailing the harrowing difficulties HIV and AIDS patients faced during the time period. Drugs had not been approved or developed properly, meaning sure death for the afflicted. There were clinical trials being done on AZT, but for patients with full-blown AIDS, the drug was too toxic and very harmful. Plus, you had to first be chosen for the trial in the first place. Ron, a natural born hustler, is frantic to live past the 30 days assigned to him and decides to take matters into his own hands. He tracks down the proteins and herbal remedies being used in other countries and begins a "buyers club," in which steep membership fees granted unlimited medicine.
Soon after being diagnosed, Ron becomes acquainted with Rayon (Jared Leto), a beautiful, outgoing transgendered woman who also suffers from AIDS. Rayon is played by the wonderful Leto, who completely disappears into his role. Rayon is incredibly warm and outgoing and becomes Ron's business partner thanks to her personable nature with customers and networking presence in the LGBT community.
The transformation most commonly known about Dallas Buyers Club, perhaps what people know most about the movie in general, is the mind-blowing alteration of McConaughey's physique in preparation of the role. McConaughey lost a shocking amount of weight (a reported 38 to 50 pounds) and has received some negative reactions. Some say that he may have gone too far as far as his health, or that drastic weight loss should not be confused with great acting, or 'Why should anyone care at all?'. But McConaughey, being so known for his gorgeous, beefy good looks, made a brilliant decision to drastically alter his appearance. His emaciated frame works perfectly for dramatic effect in order for viewers to fully believe his performance as Woodroof.
Ron is told he has 30 days to live at the beginning of the movie and he could not appear any sicker – constantly coughing, passing out and suffering from dizzy spells. For any of this to be believable, the actor better damn well look sick and McConaughey looks beyond believable as a man suffering from an illness that was, at the time, a death sentence. Woodroof/McConaughey appears like a walking skeleton, one that could keel over at any time, and often does. Also, when an actor or actress reaches the level of stardom that McConaughey has reached, in order to be believable as almost anything other than "Oh, look, it's Matthew McConaughey playing so-and-so", a physical transformation is almost required at this point. While watching Dallas Buyers Club, you forget you are even looking at McConaughey and the same can be said for Leto.
Like McConaughey, Leto whittled himself down to skin-and-bones and is completely believable as a person fighting for his life. He also acts incredibly feminine and nails the role of a male-to-female transgendered individual. Oscar buzz is surrounding both Leto and McConaughey and either one would greatly deserve the golden statue. Jennifer Garner does a good job as a friendly, accepting doctor but the fact that she looks like herself, compared with her fellow actors, negates her ability to fully encapsulate the role anywhere near to the way they do (unfair but true).
Superb performances and an engrossing story make Dallas Buyers Club a must see. The historical testimony the movie tells is one that all people should learn about – the struggle and prejudiced early HIV/AIDS patients faced. Dallas Buyers Club demonstrates the incredible will to survive a person can experience when tested.