Dallas Buyers Club – Review


Released relatively under the radar for this year’s crop of would-be awards candidates (although still scooping Matthew MacConaughey a Best Actor win at the Globes), Dallas Buyers Club is – on balance, at least – the perfect encapsulation of what truly makes an awards-calibre film. 


The true story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic miscreant of a man, diagnosed with HIV and who finds his true self in running an underground supply line of unapproved medication; it’s another reminder that MacConaughey has come into his own of late, the nonchalant take-the-paycheck roles of old cast by the wayside in favour of something deeper.


MacConaughey’s performance is first rate, his turn as Woodroof built on a foundation of urgency, necessity and above all else, evolution. This is a character that evolves naturally from point A all the way to point B without it ever feeling forced or narratively pushed in any way, despite the staggering difference between the man he starts out as and the man he becomes. Jared Leto however, is the film’s revelation. Whilst MacConaughey’s weight loss is a sight to behold, Leto’s physical transformation in the transgender role of Rayon is breathtaking to witness, the package in which a beautiful layered performance is delivered to us. The dynamic between MacConaughey and Leto is, simultaneously, both sincerely touching and hilarious, a relationship which unfolds with a generous smattering of heartfelt moments and out-and-out comedy. Backing up the two leads with a nicely rounded third wheel meanwhile, is Jennifer Garner. With sporadic roles over the past few years, it's a nice return for Garner and a role that greatly suits her finer abilities.


Whilst some background knowledge of the story’s events are of benefit (particularly the mishandled drug, AZT), Dallas Buyers Club stands proudly as a touching, dramatic (and, in some places, even blackly comedic) look at 80’s AIDS culture; a genuine diamond of a movie built upon two absolutely stunning performances.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.


In it
Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Behind it
Jean-Marc Vallée

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