Homophobic redneck Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey – Killer Joe), who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, begins a lengthy battle against the US drug administration to get life-prolonging drugs certified by the FDA. His journey takes him around the world, illegally bringing drugs into the US and establishing a ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – a monthly membership where people suffering similar illnesses can buy non-sanctioned but effective meds.
Matthew McConaughey continues his remarkable comeback here with another award-worthy performance. After facing an important decision in his career recently, McConaughey has gone from strength to strength. Off the back of his numerous rom-coms, he could have taken a very lucrative deal to bring Magnum P.I. to the big screen but instead McConaughey focused his attention on scripts and characters that really interested him. After The Lincoln Lawyer, Killer Joe and The Paperboy, he has found his form once again and having one of Hollywood’s unsung heroes back at the top is very good to see.
His physical transformation to play Ron is on par with Christian Bale in The Machinist. Almost unrecognisable as a gaunt cowboy, McConaughey handles the complexities of Ron’s character without cliché or the need to overly-sentimentalise the material. It’s a staggering performance full of power that doesn’t shy away from the fact the Ron Woodroof wasn’t a saint himself. He has clearly researched this role well and his performance certainly warranted his Academy Award win earlier in the year.
McConaughey shines but its Jared Leto that really drops the jaw as a transgender prostitute who befriends Woodroof. Leto, the accomplished front-man of rockers 30 Seconds to Mars, has always shown an impressive acting streak (check out My So Called Life) so it’s nice to see him return to film after a brief hiatus. Leto gets the balance just right with Rayon and is a revelation to watch. Elsewhere there are strong supporting turns from Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne, Denis O’Hare and Michael O’Neill.
Hard-hitting, tragic and deeply moving, Dallas Buyers Club is a thoroughly compelling watch. With Oscar gold for both leads, this stands as a real benchmark for the actors. Director Jean-Marc Vallee and writers Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack have created an Oscar-worthy film that doesn’t feel fake or sensationalised – rather a telling and truthful account of a man on a remarkable mission. This sensational true story deserves huge praise and a big audience.