Film Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
'Dallas Buyers Club' (UK Release: 7 Feb '14) // Words: Saam Das

Coming away with six Academy Award nominations is no mean feat, including a Best Picture nod, following in the footsteps of fellow AIDS-based drama 'Philadelphia'. Twenty years on from that film, which saw Tom Hanks win his first Oscar, 'Dallas Buyers Club' examines the struggle of AIDS sufferer Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) as he fights against the establishment and for his life.

Based on a true story, McConaughey's macho Woodroof is a Texan electrician diagnosed with HIV, given just thirty days to live. Woodroof's belligerence comes to the fore, refusing to mildly accept his bleak prognosis, instead throwing himself into research around the latest drug treatments on offer. Initially taking new drug AZT by nefarious means, with little governmental help on offer, he turns to smuggling more effective drugs from Mexico and beyond.

Collapsing as a result of his condition, Woodroof awakes in hospital with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgendered woman, who the homophobic Woodroof takes an immediate dislike to. However, Rayon soon becomes an important part of his "Dallas Buyers Club", where a $400 membership buys the latest anti-AIDS drugs, which are often unapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Ostracized by his old friends, Woodroof finds himself in a struggle against his intolerance of the mostly gay AIDS community and the overbearing establishment.

The central performances of McConaughey and Leto have been lauded, with Oscars looking increasingly likely for both actors. Their larger than life performances didn't enamour me quite as greatly, although it is hard to argue against the dedication to their roles by the duo - who both lost significant weight in taking up their positions. Jean Marc Vallée's direction, and the screenplay from Craig Borton and Melissa Wallack, shirk the sentimentality of 'Philadelphia' but retain the predictability, while feeling overly calculated in response - as hard as the actors try, this human drama lacks a certain humanity.


'Dallas Buyers Club' is out in UK cinemas now through EntertainmentOne.

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