Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner
Director: Jean-Marc Valléey
Matthew McConaughey has hardly given us reason to think of him as someone tipped to win an acting Oscar. But the star of such syrupy rom-coms as 'The Wedding Planner', 'How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days' and 'Failure To Launch' appears to have reinvented his career with solid acting parts in films like 'Magic Mike', 'Mud', 'The Wolf of Wall Street', and 'Dallas Buyers Club' for which he lost nearly 50 pounds.
Virtually unrecognizable in the film if it weren't for his signature drawl, McConaughey literally gets under the skin of Ron Woodroof, a beer-swilling, coke-snorting, sex-crazy Texan cowboy in the mid 1980s, who reacts with typical homophobic disgust when he's diagnosed as HIV positive. After doctors give him only 30 days to live, an angry Woodroof becomes determined to prolong his life by any means necessary. This includes driving to Mexico and getting his hands on non-FDA approved drugs. Based on true events, the film sees Woodroof set up a business selling these black-market drugs and vitamins to the sick, with the help of transgender drug addict Rayon (an excellent Jared Leto).
The film's best moments are the ones between Woodroof and Rayon, who go from antagonistic business partners to a pair of considerate co-workers committed to a noble cause. Woodroof's own transformation - from a self-absorbed hateful redneck to a determined man of the people - is the heart of this film, and it's nicely unsentimental. He sets up the 'Dallas Buyers Club' motivated strictly by profit, but subsequently transforms the enterprise into a sort of crusade against an apathetic system and a possibly corrupt pharma industry.
Jennifer Garner is well cast as a sympathetic doctor who risks her career to stand by Woodroof in his selfless mission. But the film belongs to McConaughey. Not particularly likeable at the start of the film, he tackles the part with such fearless honesty that you're rooting for him as the cracks in his tough exterior begin to show. It's a performance screaming Oscar!
Directed without much fuss by Jean-Marc Vallée, this is a poignant yet inspiring film that unfolds like your standard biopic. Yet it's riveting each time McConaughey is on screen. I'm going with three-and-a-half out of five for 'Dallas Buyers Club'.
Rating: 3.5 /5