As a nurse during the AIDS crisis in the 1980's, it was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career. Dying men, families and friends who rejected them. Homemade signs as anyone entered town saying "BillyBob is a f*****, and he has AIDS. Funeral homes who would not take a person who had died with HIV. I could go on and on, but this film gives us a first hand experience.
"Dallas Buyers Club," directed by Jean-Marc Vallée gives us the story of a man, who had unprotected sex, mainlined drugs and developed HIV. You can find this kind of story anywhere, but it is the performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto that bring this film to life. Ron Woodroof, played by McConaughey was a real-life figure. Diagnosed with HIV he could not believe it, a heterosexual man, cowboy, rodeo man, found himself with a 30 day life sentence. Unable to be part of the AZT trials, he began exploring alternative medications, went to Mexico and got better. He became partners with the men he detested the most, and soon became friends with them.
Jared Leto, as the transsexual, Rayon, is the epitome of an actor that transcends space and time. He deserves the Academy Award for his portrayal. We become emotionally involved with these two characters as they try to save their kind, while at the same time making money by charging to belong to the 'Club' and obtaining medications to keep them alive. Fighting the FDA, the physicians, big Pharma and any legal entity , they did their thing. Both actors lost a great deal of weight fir these roles, and it shows. We are waiting for them to keel over.
Try not to come to this film with pre-conceived ideas about this community. Let yourself into the story, and believe and observe their life. It takes a strong commitment to fight this good fight. Excellent film, but the performances will overwhelm you.
Recommended. prisrob 02-04-15
Dallas, the eighties (as in 1980s). Cue whoring, drinking, wild, and sometimes bull-riding Matthew McConaughey, who is diagnosed with Aids and given 30 days to live.
You know what, "Dallas Buyers Club" would not be that magnificent if not for the spectacular McConaughey. Do you even remember him in the early days when he was the most likely romantic hero coupled up with Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lopez? He is now completely reinvented. After all the superb performances recently, and losing half of his body weight to play the changed homophobe, he totally deserved an Oscar. The screen literally lights when he is on camera, he is so alive and yet he is about to die. Fighting the system which would not prescribe or let him on a trial of the new drug, he uses his thirty days to setting up and start running an illegal business (ingeniously set up "membership club") of HIV drugs for all.
Yes, he starts running the enterprise, but it's not about big money and profit. It's about odds and one man's determination to stay alive and keep alive the very people that he despised. And, believe it or not, there is a pinch of humour thrown in.
Ultimately, this is an uplifting story of abiding hope and unlikely bravery. And Jared Leto is fantastic.
on 4 March 2014
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto have rightly been hailed as the best things about this semi-biographical story set in 1985, that looks at the rising AIDS crisis, through the respective perspectives of a hard living electrician cum rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), and a self-destructive transgender prostitute named Rayon (Leto). However, Jennifer Garner’s earnest doctor, who comes into contact with Woodroof when he is diagnosed HIV positive, also impresses, as do Griffin Dunne as a disgraced MD who provides non-approved anti-AIDS drugs to Woodroof thus establishing the titular ‘club’, and Kevin Rankin as T.J., Ron’s rabidly-homophobic best buddy, who quickly turns on his former friend once Woodroof’s condition becomes known.
McConaughey turns method here, losing a shocking amount of weight and immersing himself in his portrayal of a man who is to all intents and purposes a nasty piece of work. Whoring, boozing, engaging in homophobic banter with his ne’er do well workmates, and generally strutting around like a misogynistic macho moron, Ron is an intensely unlikeable character – until the spectre of AIDS stops him in his tracks, and leads him to become something like a decent human being.
But it’s arguably Leto, as the disaffected Rayon, who steals the show; his tragic-comic streetwalker ultimately finding some kind of true (platonic) love with the fast-deteriorating Woodroof, after attempting (and failing) to patch things up with his estranged father. The relationship between Ron and Rayon moves from mutual contempt to mutual respect, and their relationship is what lies at the heart of this film. Having said that, despite Ron’s improved character, we still see him as essentially a user with an unquenchable carnal appetite – the scene where he meets an HIV-infected woman for the first time leads inevitably into sordid territory, and the film rightly never seeks to portray him as a hero.
on 28 January 2014
Well if you weren't a believer of the 'McConaughsance' you surely will be swayed after his outstanding turn as Ron Woodruf, an ignorant, blunt man who lives each moment as if it's his last until the day he is told that final day is coming around the corner very soon due to contracting the HIV virus. With terrific support from Jared Leto as his trans-gender pre-op confidante and Jennifer Garner as the smart non-judgemental doctor, Dallas Buyers Club slowly turns into the sort of movie that is worth your time and investment.
The character work in Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack's screenplay is sublime. offensive, ornery and devilishly confident, Ron remains a prickly rascal throughout, inappropriately selfless in how gloriously selfish he is. He staggers and swaggers through the film, refusing to die when the doctors say he should, persistent and confrontational to the end. you will be with him in spirit every step of the way.
there is also an interesting political, commercial aside going on especially towards the end of the film that adds textures and layers to the debate of the morality on show in the movie. Despite a harrowing subject it never overplays anything, remaining subtle for the most part and hardly a note of music is heard anywhere in terms of classical scoring.
If i had a gripe it would be to do with the pacing of the film..it can become a little confusing in terms of its time-line process but other than that this is the first great film of 2014. A film this bold and honest about imperfection and illness never felt so unashamed.
on 2 July 2014
GOSH - what an amazing film. Was away when it came into the cinemas and so pre-ordered it from Amazon.
I'm a Matthew McConaughey admirer (also loved and recommend 'The Lincoln Lawyer' another brilliant MMcC film, albeit VERY different).
Didn't think I would be able to cope with the continuous VERY foul language at the beginning but glad I stuck with it. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING PERFORMANCES FROM ALL ACTORS. Not always easy to watch but a film that stays on your mind a long time after you've finished viewing.
MMcC lost so much weight for the film that he looked like an old man in his 60's and I'm not sure that I would have recognised him if I hadn't known that he was in the film. The only identifying thing about him was his Texan drawl.
1985. A sexually active, straight, carousing, drug abusing Texas rodeo cowboy collapses. At the hospital he is told he has HIV and has less than thirty days to live. Does he succumb to the diagnosis, or does something else happen entirely?
Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about Ron Woodruff. I must admit I was unfamiliar with this movie. The ticket seller gave me an unconvincing outline, and I was about to walk away when a couple overhearing our conversation assured me it was a good movie.
I am glad to say they were correct. This is the exact type of movie that wins Oscars, and gets many nominations.
Matthew Mc Conaughey deserves to be nominated for playing someone battling a deadly disease who takes on big drugs and the FDA, to enable other sufferers like himself to have access to supplements and life saving drugs. He reputedly lost about 40 pounds for the role, and at times does look very gaunt, which gives an added layer of reality to his portrayal.
This is a multi faceted movie full of interesting characters, which operates on multiple levels at once. The personal struggle, the parallel struggles and contrasts, and the battle against different facets of authority. Jennifer Garner in a supporting role plays a feisty yet compassionate doctor, while a colleague with more of an eye to profit becomes a doctor shill for big drugs, which are experimental, still unproven, and in the clinical trial stage, and may have toxic side effects, while our protagonist has to chase down a caring and competent doctor in Mexico who was disbarred, for less toxic alternatives.
Why does one experimental method, with an unproven drug, take priority over drugs that are unapproved by the FDA? Aren't drugs undergoing clinical trials also unapproved? In both cases aren't people offering themselves as guinea pigs, and why shouldn't they be allowed to do that? After all, it is their lives.
I loved this movie, and I found the story far more engaging than I thought I would beforehand. I was particularly intrigued and a little surprised by how hard hitting it was against the FDA, and the role it plays in connection with the big pharmaceutical companies, and how it restricts our access even to harmless supplements.
I love it when a character is resourceful, so I loved the answers he gives and FDA official when he is stopped and questioned at the border.
As often happens in a movie of this nature, there is more than one great performance. An unrecognizable Jared Leto gives a breathtaking performance as a gaunt transsexual also undergoing treatment who Ron meets, and who sources customers for him. Ray like others has to deal with Ron's homophobia, and it's refreshing to see how it plays out as the character develops. What I love is the journey the character makes through being confronted with his own mortality, and how that affects a wider circle of people.
If Leto does not get an Oscar nomination for his role then there is no justice in Hollywood. He would have to be a leading contender for Best Supporting Actor, as Matthew McConaughey would be for Best Actor.
One thing that has impressed me in recent years is McConaughey's transition from lightweight romcom, and pretty boy roles, to more challenging roles. For instance, I consider Lincoln Lawyer to be one of his best roles as a wheeler dealer lawyer but not the type of role for which an actor is typically nominated. He battles the system but has no weakness.
Actors win Oscars for playing two types of roles:
One is the psychopath, such as Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood, Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.
The second is actors battling disabilities or diseases and/or social injustice. Recently Octavia Spenser won for playing a maid dealing with racial discrimination, Meryl Streep for playing a Prime Minister battling alzheimers, and Christian Bale for playing a former boxer battling drug addiction. Jennifer Lawrence won playing a character battling grief who acts out sexually. Bradley Cooper was nominated for playing someone with bipolar disorder in the same movie. Jeff Bridges won an alcoholic country singer. More recently the trend has been moving toward playing real life characters.
As often happens the best movies of the year are released in December and timed for an Oscar run. I think most people will love it
Consider Big Pharma and the medical profession: they are more interested in what's profitable than what actually helps the patients.
So a sort of vigilante medicine is at the heart of "Dallas Buyers Club," a harrowing trip into the lives of AIDS patients in the mid 1980s. The direction is pretty nondescript, but the tragic true-life story and solid script somewhat buoy it up -- and the acting by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto is superb from beginning to end.
Electrician/cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is your typical cowboy type -- he drinks, takes drugs, and has sex with lots of women. Then he is diagnosed with HIV, and given just thirty days to live. Ron refuses to just accept the diagnosis, and starts searching for drugs that can save him.
Unfortunately, the only drug that MIGHT be able to save him is an antivital called AZT, which is in clinical trials for the next few years. So Ron sneaks it from the garbage and self-medicates. Then a doctor in Mexico prescribes him ddC and peptide T, neither of which have been approved by the FDA. But unlike AZT -- which doctors are pushing even though it's horribly toxic -- those medicines work.
So a defiant Ron decides to open a "buyer's club" to sell these medicines to people who need them, with the help of Rayon (Leto) a HIV-positive transgender woman he has befriended. But when the local hospital learns that Ron has been using and distributing unapproved medicines, they become determined to shut him down despite the good he's doing.
"Dallas Buyers Club" is a devastating movie, because of what it reveals about AIDS in the past and present -- the fear, the hopelessness, the social ostracism, the slow failure of the body, and the uncaring Big Pharma/medical establishment. Most of the movie is just watching Ron wrestle the Grim Reaper into a headlock, even though we know he cannot win.
The biggest problem is that Jean-Marc Vallée's direction isn't as great as other parts of the movie. It's not BAD, it's just sort of... meh. It moves in a straight line from beginning to end, with directorial few ups or downs. But the low-budget indie feel does work well, giving a dusty realism to Vallée's style, despite a few "Hollywood" moments like a sympathetic love interest doctor who is charmed by Ron.
I'm not really a fan of McConaughey, but I can safely say that he gives perhaps his finest performance ever here. He lost a lot of weight for this role, and it's often painful to see someone so emaciated and sickly, but burning with such passion and determination that it seems to eclipse his failing body.
He also handles Ron's changes in attitude with a delicate touch. He starts off with a vile attitude towards gay and transgender people, but his abandonment by his friends and his reluctant friendship with Rayon change him into a more open, accepting person. Ron never becomes a NICE person (he's still rough, crude and somewhat mercenary), but he does learn to appreciate who people truly are.
And Leto gives a pitch-perfect performance as Rayon, giving her a brashness and a vulnerability that makes her instantly endearing. Just consider the scene where she plays cards with Ron and casually talks about splitting the AZT. Jennifer Garner is the weak spot in the cast -- she's not bad, but her character is very Generic Hollywood Love Interest.
Despite some flaws, "Dallas Buyers Club" is a harrowing, heartrending piece of work -- as well as McConaughey's finest performance.
on 5 May 2015
An unusual and no holds barred tale of rodeo culture, trailer trash, drugs, sex and AIDS. You wouldn't use this film as a tourist promotion for visiting Texas! Some choice language and some less than romantic sexual encounters are an essential ingredient in a story of realisation, anger, frustration and redemption of a "cowboy" who discovers he has AIDS and tries to help himself and others obtain access to drugs which might be able to hold back the disease or at least slow its progress. Based on a true story and full of determination - not for the faint-hearted but well worth the time invested in watching it.
on 16 July 2014
I rented this from Lovefilm and thankfully, didn't have to wait an age to see it.
Matthew McConaughey was brilliant. I've never seen him in a role like this before, so it was a real testimony to his versatility as an actor. Jared Leto was fantastic in it too - I didn't recognise him at first. He has a good pair of legs for a man! I was amazed at how much weight both these actors had had to lose for these roles and would question the ethics of acting here, but I suppose one must suffer for their art.....
This film did highlight how far we've come in a relatively short time with regards to attitudes towards homosexuality and AIDS/HIV; though it is heartbreaking to think that people who were diagnosed with AIDS back then were automatically ostracised and labelled homosexual and it is heartbreaking to see how homosexual men and women were treated as if they were some sort of parasite and deserved their suffering. Thank god times - for the best part - have changed.
I think what was most horrendous about this film was the lack of safe treatment and treatment on the whole for AIDS/HIV sufferers and how they used them as guinea pigs, not caring about the side effects of these treatments simply because those suffering from the disease were already dead as far as the medical profession were concerned. Things have changed a great deal in the 21st Century, but we all know what huge profits are made by pharmaceutical companies and how much American people must pay for medical insurance and thus treatment, if they can get insurance and thus treatment at all.
Anyway, all in all, this is quite a heart wrenching film and while the main character, Ron Woodroof, is not so likeable, one can't help feeling desperately sorry for him and what he went through and to feel a sense of admiration for the courage he showed in putting up a fight for himself and for others to get the treatment they needed in order to prolong their lives.
on 8 November 2014
There's no real underlying story or impact tbh. It races through the chain of events, never stopping long enough for any major emotional investment in the characters. Even more so than "Rush" it becomes like a highlight of a life. Because of the subject and the peer pressur ein Hollywood it got reviews above it's station and it's fashionable to like it.
Don;t get me wrong, though, MM and Leto act their parts awesomingly well - there's just nothing original, engaging or exciting.
Bascially, i came out the other end not emotionally moved and not any the wiser or more enlightened about anything.