Matthew McConaughey plays Ron, a Hollywood gun totin’ gay hatin’ Texan who gets diagnosed with HIV. He’s given 30 days to live. In his quest to find a way to appease the symptoms, he discovers new treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA and decides to set up the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, an illegal drug dispensary.
This is not an original film. It’s the typical ‘Hollywood takes on a big topic’ fare. There’s the little guy, Ron; there’s the big bad guy, the FDA; then there’s the person working for the big bad guy who can and will be swayed, Jennifer Garner. There’s the lovable kook, Jared Leto. Ron is a ‘bad’ guy but the lovable kook changes his, despite initally being suspicious of him.
All that being said, McConaughey puts in a remarkable performace not to be missed. He’s convincing in a role that could have so easily gone wrong for him. He doesn’t overplay the initial ‘gruff Texan’ thing, it feels like his ways are defined more by peer pressure than anything else. His transformation is smooth and feels natural despite the script hurrying it along a little.
His work here boosts the film infinitely. They don’t have to tell us when he’s feeling better, we just know. He’s subtle, but has a look that tells a story of its own.
Jared Leto is good too and Jennifer Garner holds her own in what is always the most annoying role in these sorts of films.
Sadly all this great work is let down by a script we’ve seen a thousand times (every year at Oscar season it seems…), and some very boring direction. This is what set 12 Years a Slave apart from the rest, and I hope it’s a trend that continues; Dallas Buyers Blub didn’t really bring anything to the table visually.
Hollywood has a way of turning truly gruelling real-life stories into borderline fairy tales. It can work, but for the most part it irks me and this is no different.
If you can stomach the annoying tone you’re probably so familiar with, this is a film worth your two hours just for McConaughey and Leto.