Tuesday 18 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Over half way through my Best Picture challenge now, and next up is a movie about strength, determination, and literally fighting for your life. Matthew McConaughey stars in Dallas Buyers Club.

Electrician and part-time cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is spending life walking on the wild side; sleeping with women left, right and centre and, when he's got his hands free, dosing himself up on lines of coke and strong liquor. But his invincible outlook is all about to change as he's taken into hospital after an accident at work and found to be HIV positive. Not only does he have aids but he also has only thirty days to live. A staunch homophobe Woodroof must change more than just his lifestyle if he is to beat his countdown and, on finding an unapproved drug in Mexico that could help, he must take his life and the law into his own hands.

When I first heard the plot of Dallas Buyers Club, I was a little worried that it would just be a modern day retelling of Tom Hanks' Philadelphia, but really, DBC focuses on the more complex issue of heterosexual aids cases. At the time in the late eighties, homosexual men were, hideously, considered by many to be getting what they deserved for their "sinful" behaviour, and it must have been completely bewildering that a straight person could also contract the disease, male or female. The audience is led along Woodroof's journey, not only of suffering, but of enlightenment too.

Personally, I think this is McConaughey's career performance to date. He was close with Mud, but starring as Ron Woodroff shows him off in a whole different field of acting. No relying on good looks or that cheeky grin here; he in fact lost three and a half stone to take on this role, and looks so unrecognisable that when I saw a recent cologne ad of his, it took me a while to remember who he was. The real Woodroof's sister was apparently very pleased with the casting, as she felt McConaughey and her brother shared the same personality and swagger. This film has been in the pipeline for years, and if it had come out any earlier, we could have been watching Woody Harrelson, Brad Pitt or even Ryan Gosling in the starring role. To me, McConaughey was the perfect choice. You can't say he's a likeable character at the beginning but my god, at the end you're in complete awe of his fighting spirit.

Jared Leto has always been a name that I've failed to put to a face, but after this performance as transsexual Rayon, it'll be hard to forget him. The "Actor in a Supporting Role" category is probably the most difficult one to call, but it would be absolutely incredible if Leto were to take the crown. He's full of life and vigour, yet simultaneously breaks your heart as he too grows sicker. To be honest, any character that brigs Glam Rock into the storyline has my vote.

The characters of Rayon and Dr Eve Saks (played by Jennifer Garner) were actually both fictitious, and seem to take the place of Woodroof's sister and daughter, who are both absent from the story. I won't give any more away, as for me, not knowing the ending made the film even more gripping. Make sure you get to see Dallas Buyers Club, or you may feel left out come awards night. 


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