Dallas Buyers Club is a masterclass in acting and Matthew McConaughey is the teacher – Jared Leto his understudy.
The film tells the story of Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) – a hard living, homophobic Texan, who after being diagnosed with AIDS and told he has a month to live, begins a quest to treat himself and other AIDS patients with non FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved medication with the help of an unlikely ally. Ron and his unlikely ally, the transvestite Rayon (Jared Leto) set out to bring medication from Mexico into the states and give them to paying members, under the scornful eye of government big wigs.
Dallas Buyers Club is a gritty look at 80’s culture, at the time AIDS was breaking out amongst the homosexual community. Director Jean-Marc Vallée superbly captures the especially-belligerent attitudes towards the homosexual community in that era, all while exploring themes of change and tolerance in the narrative.
The narrative is not the film’s strong point however. It is the brilliant performances that make Dallas Buyers Club a truly exceptional film. Matthew McConaughey is at another level in his role. Physically looking like a scary shadow of his former self, he plays the character to perfection and turns method acting standards up another notch. Jared Leto also provides a star turn in his role as Rayon, the troubled transvestite who helps Ron overcome his homophobic tendencies as they strike an unabashed partnership. Praise must also be given to Jennifer Garner in her role as a kind-hearted Doctor stuck in the middle of morally ambiguous situations.
Dallas Buyers Club is an emotional drama based in sensitive times of American modern history. It has great direction and a great screenplay, with outstanding performances. The film almost entirely rests on McConaughey’s shoulders and he carries it well, all the way to the credits.
The film’s budget was so low that the makeup budget was $250. The film’s artists were able to work with that, and the film’s Makeup and Hairstyling won an Oscar.