Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: "Dallas Buyer's Club" (2013)

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Movie"Dallas Buyer's Club"
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is an rodeo-lovin', skirt chasin', all-American, bigoted, foulmouthed redneck. After he gets injured on the job, he finds out he is HIV positive. Being the redneck that he is, he refuses to believe the news because he is a heterosexual man and cannot fathom how this could be true. He is given 30 days to live by a doctor. The first few days he wastes by drinking, doing drugs, and partying. His condition worsens. After some research about the disease and subsequent medicines used to treat it, he comes to see that HIV/AIDS is not just a disease that only exists in the gay community, as was strongly accepted in the 1980's. The local hospital is beginning a trial with the drug AZT to try and combat the disease, headed by Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), and Ron wants in. When he is not allowed in the program, he pays an orderly to steal the drug for him. Soon, AZT gets put under lock and key, so Ron travels to Mexico in order to find different drugs to not approved by the FDA, but widely used in foreign countries. He then gets the idea to start a "buyer's club," where he will sell a regimen of the non-FDA approved drugs to sick patients for a fee. With the help of Rayon (Jared Leto), whom Ron met in the hospital, together they distribute these drugs to anyone seeking help with this terminal disease.

Going into this movie, you're not going to be dealing with a happy subject matter. The movie takes an interesting look at the AIDS epidemic in the 80's because it is from an atypical perspective. Ron Woodroof is a wholly unlikable person because of his bigotry and overall crappy attitude. He is the type of person that was common in the 1980's because of the ignorance surrounding the disease, especially within the heterosexual community. His world is turned upside down after his diagnosis, and because his friends and coworkers shared similar beliefs as he did, Ron was basically outcast and isolated. He gets a little bit of an inside look at how gay people were treated early on during the AID/HIV epidemic. The fear that surrounded the disease, how people backed up when those with the disease walked by, how they didn't want to touch or hug them, how people were afraid of others with the disease...this fear is captured very well in this movie. The looks, the glances, the's all very painful to watch unfold because it's almost like reliving history.

Strong performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto make them strong contenders for Academy Award nominations this year. Both men underwent huge physical transformations to give these performances. McConaughey is almost unrecognizable in this movie, and his drastic weight-loss is reminiscent of Christian Bale in "The Machinist." He is not exactly out of his element because he's still a cowboy with a Southern drawl, but he's not exactly in his element because he's not playing a shirtless, gyrating stripper/typical ladies man. Jared Leto is flawless as Rayon, an HIV positive transvestite who befriends Ron despite his insults and harassment. Together, they help one another and you really believe their friendship works.

The one drawback we have about this film is, once again, the pacing. For it being a movie that is less than two hours long, it felt like it dragged a bit. The story does have to cover a lot of ground, but it definitely just kind of creeps by slowly. If you can overlook this, it's a really powerful film, one that is very Oscar-baity, but important to watch simply to see how far behind we were at certain points in our history as a nation.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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