"Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club!"
One of the main themes in cinema during 2013 had to do with reinventing oneself, or at least I found it a common thread in several movies (American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street being the main examples). As good as those movies were, nothing defines the term better than Matthew McConaughey who completely reinvented himself over the last couple of years and has become one of the best Hollywood actors. 2011 was a turning point for him with a great performance in The Lincoln Lawyer and then he followed his success in Bernie, Killer Joe, The Paper Boy, and Magic Mike. This year he blew me away in my favorite film of the year, MUD; he also delivered a short but memorable performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, and now he was mesmerizing in Dallas Buyers Club. He has been racking up awards this year for this great performance and is the frontrunner to win the Oscar as well. I would pretty much see him in anything he's doing right now and I actually began watching his new HBO series, True Detective, which looks promising. The reason why I dedicated so much lines talking about him more than I did about the movie is because he is what makes this film so entertaining. Dallas Buyers Club would just be an average film without him, but his performance is so powerful that it becomes the main reason why you should see it. It's not just about the physical transformation he went through, he also delivers a raw and energetic performance that makes Dallas Buyers Club such a transcendent film.
Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a Texas homophobic redneck working as an electrician while making some money on the side as a rodeo cowboy. He's a heavy smoker, drinker, and frequent drug user who likes to engage in casual sex. His life takes a drastic change after the doctors discover that he's HIV positive and will most likely die within 30 days. Not accepting his death sentence, he begins to do some research and discovers that there are unapproved drugs that could help him extend his life. He crosses the border into Mexico and finds that the alternative treatments are effective so he decides to smuggle them into the U.S. Dr. Sevard (Denis O'Hare), the doctor who diagnosed him, is against this treatment as he is testing his patients with a trial drug called AZT which the pharmaceutical companies are pushing to get through. He does find some sympathy in Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), but there isn't much she can do to help him. However in the hospital he finds an unlikely ally in the transvestite Rayon (Jared Leto) who doesn't care for government regulations either and together they establish a buyers club where members can have access to these unapproved drugs for a monthly fee. This is where Ron's battle begins as he not only has to fight his disease, but the government as well while trying to smuggle more effective drugs to the country.
If you need another reason beside McConaughey to go see Dallas Buyers Club than Jared Leto might just be it. He too has been piling up awards this season for his supporting role as the transvestite Rayon. He also delivers a memorable performance that makes this film even more entertaining. These two characters are the driving force of the film. The film is powerful and engaging thanks to them because it really doesn't say anything new about the AIDS plague during the 80's or the ridiculous government and pharmaceutical regulations. The story does deal with these issues, but if you want to really become enraged about them there are many other films that do it much better, like the documentary How To Survive a Plague. What this film has going for it are the performances from Matthew and Jared, and those two should be the only awards it receives come Oscar time. Gravity may have blown you away thanks to its spectacular visuals and technical achievements, but Dallas Buyers Club will blow you away thanks to these two characters. The many flaws the film may have concerning pacing and script don't take away from the mesmerizing experience of seeing these two actors reinventing themselves the way they have in this film. They are responsible for transforming this average biopic into a compelling and engaging one. Keep living!