Sunday, June 15, 2014

Film Review: Dallas Buyers Club

A film about an oil working, drug using, rodeo aficianado, man whore who contracts AIDS through his promiscuity and then partners with a cross-dressing heroin addict to bring unapproved drugs to the primarily homosexual community in Texas during the mid 80s in an attempt to both prolong their own lives and turn a dime seems like an odd effort for me to enjoy.  But...well...there it is...

Dallas Buyers Club mixes a bunch of great elements to create a truly enjoyable film.  Foremost is Matthew McConaughey's performance.  He is truly skeletal in his appearance having lost a ton of weight for the role and he is perfect for an obstinate Texas redneck who is a better person than he gives himself credit for.  Yeah, this kind of the "hooker with a heart of gold" cliche, but it works here, likely because the situation and story is unique.

Jared Leto nearly steals the show in his supporting role as Rayon the transvestite.  He owns the role and deservedly won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for it.

Both of these actors have an enormous amount of charm and charisma which keeps you from thinking about any of the unsavory aspects of the story which remain below the surface throughout.  Which is also a great credit to the director.  It could have been a brutally depressing tale of death, disease and failure or it could have been a tedious examination of the reasons for and against the importation or slow approval of various drugs to target the AIDS virus.  Instead its a relatively uplifting story under quite depressing circumstances.

The only major negative in the film I found was the performance of Jennifer Garner.  She plays the role of both of the male character's doctor and confidant.  Unfortunately she is too pretty, too modern and too soft spoken to fit the role.  When the camera turns on McConaughey I believe I'm looking at an AIDS ridden cowboy.  When it turns on Jared Leto, I believe I'm looking at a drug addled transvestite.  When it turns to Garner??  I immediately think of her as Ben Affleck's wife who appeared on the cover of US Magazine recently and who looks like she just stepped off the set of her latest Cover Girl makeup shoot.

In the end maybe others have critiqued it for glossing over the ugliness of the situation the characters found themselves in--facing a wasting death, harsh discrimination, lack of medical options, etc. but not all films can wallow in the dark and sometimes being the attractive sister is the best way to get your message out there.

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