Monday, November 4, 2013

Movie with Abe: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Released November 1, 2013

Matthew McConaughey has managed to transform his reputation recently from the go-to romantic comedy lead who doesn’t put in much effort mostly by choice to a serious actor making solid role selections. Parts in “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Bernie,” “The Paperboy,” “Magic Mike,” and this year’s terrific “Mud” have helped to establish that, and this film all but seals the deal. A notably thinner and emaciated-looking McConaughey stars as real-life Texan Ron Woodroof, who is diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s and refuses to let the death sentence he receives dictate the rest of his life, taking a proactive approach to his unimaginable reality.

The film’s title refers to the organization Woodroof creates when he is told that he cannot receive the drugs he needs to in the United States and turns to importing non-approved drugs from Mexico and doling out plentiful portions of medication to those who buy in for membership. Woodroof getting there isn’t easy, however, and it’s the journey and his growth as a person that make this film worth watching. McConaughey, who may finally find Oscar recognition for this film after recent buzz for other roles, burrows himself completely into the role and creates a complex and electric main character.

The rest of the film is not quite as consistent. McConaughey has excellent support from costar Jared Leto, who is unrecognizable as Rayon, a transgender fellow HIV patient who forges an unlikely friendship with Woodruff as they begin a business partnership. Jennifer Garner, however, feels out of place as the occasionally flirtatious but otherwise personality-free doctor who Woodruff romances and who becomes sympathetic to his plight. Her character and some of the surrounding storyline doesn’t always fit, and it makes the film as a whole a less cohesive experience.

Even if “Dallas Buyers Club” doesn’t fully succeed in telling its story in an effectively cinematic fashion, it does tell an involving story, tracing its main character from his beginnings as a homophobic electrician to his new state of more tolerant, law-averting businessman. His thin, mustachioed appearance makes him a less than appealing protagonist at first, but the film works subtly to convince viewers otherwise, and to show that this bigoted playboy might have more to him than meets the eye. Ultimately, it’s more memorable as a performance showcase than as a film in its own right, but serves as a decent attempt at both.


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