I checked out a new movie tonight:
Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Valee and starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto, chronicles the journey of Ron Woodruff, played by McConaughey, and his fight with AIDS and how he worked to get the people of 1985 Dallas the medication to make the disease manageable.
Woodruff, at the start of the film, is a down on his luck, homophobic, addicted to multiple drugs, electrician working a hustle at his local rodeo. After an event lands him in a hospital, he learns that he is HIV positive and a large early portion of the film is dedicated to how he deals with the new old world he finds himself in.
Eventually he ends up in the hospital again and meets Rayon (played by Leto), a M to F transvestite, who is in the drug trial Woodruff can’t seem to get himself into.
Finding the United States medical system restrictive, Woodruff travels to Mexico and learns more about the disease he has and how to treat. Where the United States tried to treat the disease, Woodruff learned how to treat the symptoms in Mexico. The experience prompts him to create a Buyer’s Club in Dallas – a place where people with HIV and AIDS can go to get medications that the U.S. doctors were unwilling to prescribe.
The film deals with a myriad of issues such as big pharmaceutical companies, corrupt undertones of the FDA, Hospitals who act as nothing more than an idealized, legally approved drug dealer and misconceptions about the LGBT community.
McConaughey and Leto are nothing short of outstanding in their roles – which makes sense, based on the amount of awards they have been getting this season. The emotional growth of Woodruff, mixed with utterly raw portrayal of a man dealing with the various symptoms he had, combined with the obvious physical preparation McConaughey did for the role Make him the obvious front runner for Best Actor at the Oscars.
The same can be said for the performance of Leto. His portrayal of the transvestite Rayon, who was compassionate, strong and dealing with a set of issues all her own, deserve to go hand in hand with the performance of McConaughey. Their performances made this movie work.
It was also nice to see Jennifer Garner in a role. Garner played Eve, one of the doctors responsible for overseeing the hospital’s clinical test on the recent pharmaceutical drug. With so many members of the medical community being portrayed as pushers, Garner was the balancing act to a medical system gone wrong for much of the movie. Everything she did was in her best interest for the patients.
Of the two Oscar movies I have watched thus far (Captain Phillips was the other), DBC seems the most complete. It was a story with a message filled with many memorable performances and scenes. If you want to try and see the best picture nominations before the Oscars, this is one that I recommend to start with.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.