Dallas Buyer’s Club

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Nominated: Best Picture; Best Actor; Best Supporting Actor; Editing; Make Up and Hair; Best Original Screenplay

Wow was Dallas Buyer’s Club challenging to watch or what? I found it difficult to watch Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruff because he just looks so painfully ill and it’s well-known that he underwent a dramatic weight-loss program to achieve the physicality needed for this performance. He just doesn’t look healthy at all which I found uncomfortable to witness. It did add to his performance and not just physically but emotionally as well. He undergoes a fairly decisive transformation over the course of the film in terms of personality.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUBAt the outset of the film he has a fairly typical outlook on the subject of AIDs, certainly at the height of the American epidemic during the 1980s. He is every inch the homophobic, red-neck, then is diagnosed himself. Of course there is the denial phase but once he finally accepts it his hustler instincts come to the fore in his search for life saving drugs. It’s this search and his subsequent frequent interaction with the gay community, the very community he shunned before his diagnosis that begins to alter his perspective. And key to this is Jared Leto as the transvestite, Rayon.

Leto is almost unrecognizable as Rayon – and makes a very convincing transvestite thanks to his somewhat effeminate looks. Rayon is a force of nature and you can’t help but be drawn to him. Despite being a force of nature Rayon is such an intensely sad and lonely character, a product of his lifestyle as it has created an estrangement from his family. There’s a tangible sadness to Rayon hidden beneath the extrovert.27LETO1_SPAN-articleLarge-v2

While I wasn’t alive during the AIDs epidemic in America I am by no means ignorant to the history of it. But then when you come from a history orientated family you grow up absorbing information across all periods of time. I often take it for granted that I know about certain events without having experienced them and forget that there are many people who know nothing about the world past their back yard. I think Dallas Buyer’s Club is an important film as it opens up a period of history, and recent history at that, to a new audience. While we know more about the disease there are still people who are woefully ignorant about AIDs and bigoted because of it.

Dallas Buyer’s Club is a thoughtful and moving film that takes quite a stark look at the attitudes around the epidemic during the 1980s, with powerful and compelling performances from its two leads, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. An intensely interesting film.


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