Reel Freak

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Reel Review – Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas-Buyers-Club poster-2013-movie-poster-HD

Dallas Buyers Club’s success comes from being tasked with depicting such a controversial topic as HIV/AIDS, and utilizing its intentions incredibly well.  You don’t see very many Hollywood films that touch on this subject matter.  Not that there shouldn’t be any, but simply because you have to figure out the right direction to take a feature film in which deals with any major diseases.  Dallas Buyers Club strikes you with a sense of realism, which is one of the reasons why it’s so effective.
There has been a lot of well-deserved, promising awards buzz attached to Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club this year.  Earning six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey, and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto, this is clearly one of most talked-about films of the season.

The story is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), an electrician and rodeo hustler who is diagnosed with AIDS in 1985.  Initially given 30 days to live, he figures out that the drugs given to him at the hospital are harming him further.  After the month has passed, he decides to drive from Dallas to Mexico in order to find drugs that haven’t been approved by the U.S., and smuggles them back into the States in order to sell to patients who also need the proper medication.  Along the way, Ron meets an HIV-positive transvestite named Rayon (Leto), and they end up becoming unlikely business partners.  With the FDA on his tail, Ron must do whatever is necessary to keep his customers alive, as well as himself.

This is a film that had been proposed back in the mid-90’s, but finally found its footing when McConaughey and Vallée signed on for it.  The screenplay is really fantastic and makes a great effort.
What I think struck me most about this movie was Woodroof’s denial when he is first diagnosed with AIDS, claiming that his tests must have been wrong, saying he wasn’t a “faggot”.  Keep in mind that when AIDS first started spreading, people thought that it was only acquired between homosexuals, so that is one of the more realistic and straight-forward aspects of the movie.

McConaughey gives a tremendous leading performance, showing a range of emotions throughout the film while still managing to keep his cool and make the best of his situation.  His dialogue was presented almost flawlessly, especially interacting with other characters.  Jared Leto’s performance as Rayon is one of the more memorable roles of this year.  He really gives an alluring, captivating performance, but at the same time cracks some jokes which adds a bit of humor to the film.  Again, that seems to play into the whole idea of taking a difficult subject to portray on-screen and to execute it so perfectly.
Both McConaughey and Leto are deserving for Best Lead & Supporting Actor, by far.  In fact, one of the best scenes in the film is between Woodroof and Rayon, and they finally realize just how important they have been to each other’s journey to stay alive up until that point.


What Works?

  • This film is carried by outstanding direction, with a job very well done with the screenplay
  • Maintains a very captivating tone throughout
  • Phenomenal dialogue and performances from McConaughey and Leto especially

What Doesn’t Work?

  • Supporting cast of characters, including Jennifer Garner and Denis O’Hare gave good performances, but they weren’t too memorable to me
  • Continuity confusion; The film would use time transitions by counting days (ie: Day 28, Day 29), but half-way through the movie it started jumping to larger spans like “Six Months Later” which became confusing and it ended up being Day 2,557 when Woodroof actually died.
  • A darker, sadder tone keeps consistent, topic may be unsettling to some

Overall, fantastic film, and definitely one of the top movies of the 2014 Awards season.  It achieves a lot in just under 2 hours, and you should definitely see Dallas Buyers Club if you get the chance.

Reel Rating: 8/10

Written by Josh Sazin on January 28th, 2014


5 comments on “Reel Review – Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

  1. flashbackbackslide
    January 29, 2014

    I thought this movie was fantastic. Honestly, I had no real expectations walking into the theater which may have had an impact. I agree the acting, especially McConaughey and Leto are really fantastic. Do you think either of them have a chance at an Oscar? They won Golden Globes but it seems like people don’t think they have a chance at the Oscars. Great review!

    • jsazin
      January 29, 2014

      Hey thanks! I do believe they have a chance at Oscars, both of them. I don’t know why people think they don’t. Looking at who they’re up against, Leto’s only real concern should be Fassbender, and for McConaughey, I think the only other real possibility would be DiCaprio, but between the two of them, it’s hard to tell. Thanks for reading!

  2. flashbackbackslide
    January 29, 2014

    Yeah I think you’re right about Fassbender and DiCaprio. I can’t tell who has the better chance between Leto and McConaughey. I’d probably be happy if any of those four won their categories (although I think DiCaprio has been better in the past, not that he was bad in Wolf of Wall Street).

    • jsazin
      January 29, 2014

      Exactly. Part of me wants to see Leo finally win his Oscar, though McConaughey gave an incredible performance in DBC. I’m torn, but like you said, I’d also be happy if any of those four won this year. All so deserving.

  3. liamdoesfilm
    February 2, 2014

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