Written by / 11/15/2013 / No comments / , , , , , ,

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

year: 2013 cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne, Steven Zahn rating: *** 
Ron Woodruff, played by a shockingly thinned-down Matthew McConaughey, is a homophobic, rodeo riding, womanizing, boozing, drug-addict electrician, showing his true colors before receiving the diagnoses that he contracted HIV: While playing cards with his red neck buddies, Ron’s heard griping about actor Rock Hudson, the first AIDS related death to put the fatal disease on the map. Here we learn, in a somewhat forced manner, what kind of person he is… or was. But THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB truly succeeds at taking a trip to the mid-eighties, when AIDS was only linked to homosexuality. Woodruff, basically given a thirty-day death sentence, goes from a bitter addict in denial to a maverick businessman forced to cope with the disease, selling a “cocktail” of vitamins and other drugs, acquired in Mexico, which were healthier and more successful than the government sponsored AZT.

On the forefront is Woodruff’s gritty, determined persona, initially street-dealing and eventually getting patients legitimately signed up for a program (the “Buyers Club”) to receive more helpful medication. Too bad the film never fully discusses what transactions were legal or illegal at the time,  painting the DEA as a one-note villain as Woodruff becomes somewhat over-glorified, without having too many obstacles, blunting both his roguish intensity and the needed suspense of a story centered on taking big risks, worldwide. Meanwhile the friendship between Ron and his sympathetic doctor, played by Jennifer Garner, provides an essential bittersweet friendship (a non-romantic romance) remaining bland and peripheral.

Oscar buzz is already being thrown in McConaughey’s direction, but the dark horse candidate is Jared Leto’s cross-dressing Rayon, becoming Woodruff’s business partner, confidant and, ultimately, his gateway to understanding the lifestyle he once abhorred. In a sense, Rayon is liken to Tom Hanks’ character in PHILADELPHIA while Woodruff, surly and narrow-minded like Denzel Washington’s lawyer, eventually grows enlightened. Though the film loses steam in the final act, becoming more of a political statement than a wheeling-dealing biopic, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB remains entertaining and enlightening the whole way through.
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