Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club


Fight for Your Right to Live

7.75 out of 10 | DVD or Rental

Rated: R Pervasive language, nudity, drug use, and some strong sexual content
Release Date: November 1, 2013 (limited)
Runtime: 1 hour 57 minutes

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Writers: Craig Borten, Melissa Wallack

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jered Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Michael O'Neill

SYNOPSIS:  The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.

REVIEW: Director Jean-Marc Vallee, known for The Young Victoria, takes a script by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack (Mirror Mirror) to bring the true story of early HIV-diagnosed Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his search for alternative medical treatments to combat the virus.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike) is a womanizing, cocaine snorting rodeo rider and electrician, taking bets on whether his competition can ride for 8 seconds. When he collapses on his trailer floor and follows that up with an electrical accident on the job, he is told that he has the HIV virus. Woodroof tried to get on an FDA drug trial of AZT. When he can't be guaranteed that he would receive the drug instead of a placebo, he pays off orderlies, and eventually travels to Mexico for the drug. In Mexico, he meets a doctor who explains that AZT is worse than the virus, sending Woodroof to come up with a plan to make a profit on drugs that seem to work. When he can't bring himself to associate with homosexuals, he partners with a transsexual (Jared Leto, Mr. Nobody) to bring the medication to the masses of HIV positive and AIDS afflicted people in Texas. All the while the FDA bullies Woodroof at every turn, confiscating and bringing charges against him for his unsanctioned drug program.

Matthew McConaughey joins Christian Bale, Robert De Niro, and Sean Penn as an actor who transforms his body to sell his character. Shedding on unhealthy amount of weight to play Woodroof, McConaughey is nearly unrecognizable. The one thing that remains is his distinctive voice and piercing eyes. Becoming a scarecrow thin version of David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, adorns a long hairdo, porn mustache, and cowboy hat and boots. Sometimes an underrated A-list actor, McConaughey again proves why he is on the list. After a turn as male stripper mogul, he turns out to riveting and powerful performances in Mud and now for Dallas Buyers Club.

McConaughey is not alone in his brilliant performance. Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner also turn and inspired efforts. Leto, as the pre-op transsexual Rayon, is both beautiful and bitching. He/she commands and demands attention, for good and bad. Garner, as Dr. Eve Saks, plays her role with subtlety and grace. Steve Zahn's police officer, who shows up periodically throughout the film, reflects that McConaughey's Woodroof was well liked in spite of his antics.

The story is both an account of the pandemic that was the death sentence of the HIV virus and AIDS in the 80s and a quasi-documentary on the politics and lobbying that latched itself in and around the Food and Drug Administration. Much of the film deals with Woodroof's attempts to battle against the FDA and the way they do business. As AZT works its way through the FDA approval process, it shows that the government agency, the pharmaceutical companies, and even the courts make it impossible to believe that the best interests of terminal patients was in mind.

Dallas Buyers Club is a David and Goliath tale, as well as a story of man battling against his own mortality. When Ron Woodroof first succumbs to his diagnosis he does everything in his power to heal himself. Once he heals himself - and lines his pockets - he realizes there is greater work to be done.

Another feather of excellence for McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club is a slowly spun tale of survival and perseverance. Paced to capture every nuance of the characters and their fights, this story is both important and relevant, showing far we have come as a society. Even so, tolerance and acceptance is still a fleeting ideal in some cases. Dallas Buyers Club has an indie feel and sensibility to it, not pulling any punches to bring Ron Woodroof's story to life.

1 comment:

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