Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
User ReviewsReview this title
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto each lost approximately 40 pounds for their respective roles as Ron Woodroof, the redneck, three-way loving, alcoholic, drug-addicted electrician/rodeo cowboy; and Rayon, the sensitive, street-savvy, would-be transsexual so desperate for a kind word. Their physical appearance will startle you more than once, but is quite effective in getting across the struggles of those infected with HIV virus in the 1980's. The numbers impacted exploded and the medical profession was ill-equipped to properly treat the patients.
This is based on a true story and a real life guy (Woodroof) who became a most unlikely beacon of hope for AIDS patients. Woodroof fought the medical industry, Pharmaceutical companies and the government (FDA, DEA, IRS). It's impossible to miss the message and accusations that most of these had a single goal of increasing profits, rather than curing the disease. And that's where the story lags a bit. Michael O'Neill and Dennis O'Hare are the faces of greed and bureaucracy, while Jennifer Garner, Leto, and Griffin Dunne represent the side with a heart. Woodroof seems to be a guy who just doesn't want to die, sees a business opportunity, and even learns a little bit about humanity along the way.
There have been numerous other projects that deal with AIDS, including: Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and the recent documentary How to Survive a Plague. This may be the first with a protagonist who is simply unlikeable, despite his passion and strong survival instincts. McConaughey doesn't shy away from the homophobic personality and cruel manner of speech that Woodroof possesses. We never doubt his frustration at those controlling the big picture, but we never really see him connect with those his brash tactics help.
McConaughey is on a dream run as an actor right now, and it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see him garner an Oscar nomination. But it would be a mistake to chalk that up to his losing so much weight - he really delivers a character that we won't soon forget. And let's not overlook Mr. Leto, who has been away from acting for 4 years touring with his band. He is a remarkable talent and a true screen presence. Compare this role to his Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27. It's not just the range of weight, but moreso the range in acting that so impresses.
Also worth noting here is the outstanding cinematography of Yves Belanger. This movie is shot in a way that brings out the intimacy of the moments, while not losing the big picture. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria) and co-writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack work together for a solid foundation, but it's McConaughey and Leto that we will most remember ... and of course, the pics of the great Marc Bolan on the wall. www.MovieReviewsFromTheDark.wordpress.com
Matthew McConaughey who lost a significant amount of weight to play the role gives the performance of his career along with Jared Leto who's equally as good here. The two give quite possibly the best performances I've seen in a film all year in which I actually forgot I was watching actors in a film and instead felt as if I was watching real people. There's no doubt they will both receive nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
While this kind of story does feel a bit familiar overall, it's excellent screenplay and sense of realism along with the excellent performances make up for it. While it's defiantly not easy viewing and a bit of a downer to watch, it's a truly inspiring (and important) true story and one of the years best films.
McConaughey has been made out to be a bit of a laughing stock after starring in a series of really mediocre films. His recent performances however, have shown that the man truly is one of the best actors working in the business right now. Dallas Buyers Club is only further proof of this.
Based on the true story of the real Ron Woodroof, Dallas Buyers Club follow one man's actions on his mission to survive and how he started a revolution in a time when HIV/AIDS was a major issue. The story itself, not only is interesting, but it doesn't contain a dull moments. It filled with dramatic elements with dashes of comedic moments. It also features characters that we come to find ourselves close to. Every one of which gets their own time to shine. The film does jump around quite a bit, but it does so for the sake of the story and the events that are to come, and through every major point in Woodroof's life and battle with HIV.
Among the cast is Matthew McConaughey who easily gives the performance of his career as the blunt and clever Ron Woodroof. McCoaughey conveys different aspects of Woodroof with such ease. There are moments where he portrays Woodroof as being tough as nails, but then he can instantly shift gears into his emotional side. The comic relief aspects also come off completely natural. Jennifer Garner stars as Woodroof's female doctor friend Eve Saks. Garner does a fine job of giving off her charm as she always does, but with this performance we see the conflict her character is battling between her career and doing what is right. But the one actor who stands out the most is Jared Leto as the cross-dressing Rayon. Leto provides not only a lot of the major comic relief, but he also brings the heart of the story. We are shown Rayon as this carefree, happy-go-lucky character, but eventually we are shown just deeply affected this disease brings him emotionally, and Leto brings all of this to the table flawlessly.
Dallas Buyers Club is completely deserving of all of its Oscar buzz. From its powerful story, to its outstanding performances by the two leading males. Whether or not it is or isn't nominated for the 2014 Oscars, it is a film that has to be seen.
My Rating: 8/10
Ron does not accept the diagnosis since he is not homosexual but a couple of days later he realizes that the diagnosis may be accurate. He researches about the disease and learns that AZT might be lethal for infected people. Further, he discovers that in Mexico there is a doctor with revoked license named Vass (Griffin Dunne) that uses alternative drugs in the treatment of AIDS. Ron improves his healthy and decides to sell the drugs in Dallas. He makes a partnership with Rayon and soon he creates the Dallas Buyers Club, where the memberships pay four hundred dollars per month to have the necessary drugs. But the FDA does not accept his research and he is oppressed by the authorities.
"Dallas Buyers Club" is a great movie based on the true story of a terminal man infected by HIV+ that fights against the system to prolong his and his clients' lives using drugs not accepted by the FDA. Matthew McConaughey deserves his Oscar and it is impossible to recognize Jared Leto, also awarded with an Oscar. The story also denounces the participation of the pharmaceutical industry and doctors in the United States of America using unethical procedures to test and sell their drugs. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Clube de Compras Dallas" ("Dallas Buyers Club")
As described in David France's documentary How to Survive a Plague, activists such as the New York-based organization ACT UP began to protest against the government's callous indifference, challenging the FDA to change their drug approval procedure and the pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices and speed up their research process. In addition to the organized group protests, individuals also did their part and the determination of one unlikely crusader, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic "good ol' Texas party boy," is the centerpiece of Jean Marc-Vallée's gritty and hard-hitting Dallas Buyers Club.
Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and based on real events, it is the story of Woodroof's personal struggles after being diagnosed with AIDS and his efforts to spread public awareness of the disease and help reduce the suffering and extend the lives of AIDS patients. As the film opens, the heterosexual, drug-using and unabashedly promiscuous Woodroof receives the bad news from his doctors that he only has thirty days to live. Reacting with vitriol, he storms out of the hospital, cursing and making homophobic slurs while accusing the staff of making the wrong diagnosis.
After thoroughly researching the disease, however, and accepting the idea of his serious illness, Woodroof hears of a clinical trial for the new drug AZT, the only legal drug that was available at the time in the United States. His attempt, however, to become one of the participants is denied and he has to purchase the drug surreptitiously from an orderly. Unfortunately, he soon finds out that the dosage of AZT he is taking is toxic and his condition worsens. Refusing to give up, he visits an unlicensed American doctor (Griffin Dunne) in Mexico who has had some success with alternative treatments such as vitamins and protein-based anti-viral drugs.
Smuggling non-FDA approved experimental and alternative medicines into the U.S., he creates a business that allows him to distribute the drugs free of charge to AIDS patients who pay a monthly membership fee to join his Dallas Buyers Club, one of many such clubs that sprang up around the country. Woodroof is assisted in his venture by the drug-addicted transsexual Rayon (Jared Leto), a fellow patient that he met during his hospitalization. Though the film's depiction of Rayon does little to break the gay stereotype, their mutual engagement in helping AIDS victims helps Ron see his business partner in a different light than on their first meeting.
With the help of a sympathetic doctor, Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), Rayon and Woodroof work together while dodging Food and Drug Administration enforcers and the wrath of the pharmaceutical companies. In one of his best efforts, Matthew McConaughey, who lost 40 pounds for the movie, delivers a brilliant performance as the emotionally volatile but basically decent Woodroof. Though ultimately, not all alternative drugs proved to be useful, Woodroof and Rayon's determination in the face of powerful interests helped paved the way for development of new treatments, even though it took until the late 90s to come up with one that was fully effective. As a result of their efforts and that of countless others, HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was.
Happily the truth is that, although there is an element of this, the film doesn't overplay to this side of its nature and instead delivers a remarkable straight telling without too much excess. The character of Ron is a hustler first and everything else second and this doesn't change once he finally gets through the "bargaining, anger, denial, acceptance" stages of his diagnosis. As a result his efforts to bring in the drugs are not done out of some selfless act of wanting to help others as he prepares to meet his maker, but rather as part of his own fight for life he hits on a scheme to make money – and for the majority of the film this is the case. This central truth to the character really works to rob the film of sentimentality of him and therefore of the wider situation and it makes for a better film because we are engaged because we are interested rather than becomes a sweeping musical score or "Oscar clip" moment tells us to feel something. It does still do this and it does still bring out the sense of people struggling to live while the structure supposed to help them does little about it, but it does so in a way that is refreshingly free of smaltz.
Although this is a strength, it should also be said that the film doesn't manage to bring it all together as well as it should given the subject matter. It just feels like it falls a few steps short of greatness in terms really delivering an emotional punch that informs on the individual and the bigger picture at the same time – it does do this, but it is more consistent rather than building to this. Despite this it still works and although it lacks these real highs of delivery, it was functional and successful and I appreciated the lack of easy sentiment. The performances match this and in particular McConaughey gets the tone of the film and by return sets it. He is great, not because of the weight loss but because he delivers an unsympathetic character and convinces as him whether he is raging in denial, hustling or hurting. He is the heart of the film and it works as well as it works thanks a lot to him. The support characters are never more than supporting though, but of course Leto is strong in his role – not because he cross-dresses, but because he is the character and he makes Rayon about much more than the appearance. Zahn, Garner, O'Neill, Dunne and other recognizable faces all do solid work but primarily this is McConaughey's film.
Dallas Buyers Club may not be perfect but it is consistent and it is engaging. I appreciate that it never resorts to easy smaltz or cheap sentimentality and it seems perfectly fine with its flawed character being flawed throughout the film. It is a well told story which links well from the individual's story into the bigger picture, even if it doesn't quite impact at that level as it could have done. Within the solid and effective frame of this story, McConaughey then seals the deal with a really strong lead performance as he takes yet another massive leap away from being that guy leaning against the title on the bus poster.
Of note is that this entire film was shot in only 23 days and Leto, in particular, said in an interview on the Daily Show, that he didn't have much time to rehearse, making the performance even more impressive. The only detraction was Jennifer Garner. She barely projects the authority of a nurse, let alone a doctor, even though female doctors in the 70's (and maybe today) were second-class citizens.
However, after running into red tape when trying to obtain medication, he decides to smuggle massive amounts of pharmaceutical products and starts selling them to other HIV/AIDS infected patients, creating the "Dallas Buyers Club".
First of all, what a film. Jean-Marc Vallée's "C.R.A.Z.Y." was quite something to watch, but "Dallas Buyers Club" is a tremendous achievement. Vallée's directing is stellar, the script is top notch, and features a palette of characters that makes this story truly engaging and human.
Homophobia, illness, lust, being incapable of receiving proper treatment, smuggling, death, friendship, the limitations of the legal system, these are all themes that would lead one to think that this film is a depressing drama. It is not. And that's where the success of "Dallas Buyers Club" lies. All these themes would make the perfect recipe for a melodrama, wrap it up in a small package with a big star (McConaughey), and put the "Based on a true Story" stamp. But it's so much, much more.
"Dallas Buyers Club" avoids all the traps of melodrama by being whole-heartedly hilarious at times, with just the proper dose of raw emotion, and performances that will be remembered for ages. Half-way through the film, my friends and I looked at each other, in a bit of disbelief, unanimously agreeing that McConaughey deserves an Oscar for this. Jared Leto is also wonderful as Rayon, an AIDS-infected transvestite patient that will become a great friend and business partner, and that will trigger Woodroof's change of vision towards homosexuality. And it is not drastic. It comes in all kinds of subtleties and heart-warming moments. Hats off to Jennifer Garner as well, she is flawless.
Without ever offering a heavy-hearted tone, this is a story of perseverance and positivity with an interesting setting that sheds some light on an often forgotten page of history. Engaging social drama, well-written comedy, and wonderful cinematic experience altogether.
If you had suddenly being told that you have only 30 days to live and that you have to make peace with this information how would you react? Rodeo bull rider Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) wakes up in hospital to this news which is shared with him by his attending physician. Woodroof who has been diagnosed positive of the HIV virus reacts to this revelation in anger. In fact it is this anger that fuels him to the distances that he reaches out for survival. Woodroof who was initially treated with the drug stated AZT did not respond positively to them. Instead the needle happy bull rider tried experimenting with medications and drugs to concoct his own special brew of HIV anti bodies, Strangely these events did lead him to certain discoveries that attracted the attention of the legal system whose waking wish was to shut him down. May it be money, may it be his human instinct to live, Woodroof along with Rayon (Jared Leto) did not give up which invariably resulted in the opening of the DALLAS BUYERS CLUB ; a business that dealt the FDA unapproved medication to HIV patients.
Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee has difficulty in controlling the rhythm of the screenplay and is wobbly at first. Trailer trash sex scenes and orgies and drugs engross the first hour of the movie which although has relevance to what Woodroof is all about did not contribute much to what the movie is entirely discussing about. Once Jean gets his feet firmly on the ground for a good 45 minutes with the actual matter the screenplay derails yet again when the battle between life and death becomes a political tussle in between Woodroof and the government. For starters the entire political involvement is abruptly handled with I would say less than 5 minutes of screen time and top of that to the audience it breaks rhythm and direction of the true struggle of Woodroof and Rayon.
What keep this loosely driven motion picture in balance are its two lead performers. The weight losses alone show the commitment and the help of makeup and hairstyling simple accentuates the entire performance even further. It's been sometime since a movie of this caliber has been in our midst. There is no room for excessive CGI. No room for artificial imagery and what we see is pretty much what goes on in front of the lens.
Exquisite work on the part of the leading men. McConaughey and Leto are on a whole new level. It's a slow paced bio-pic so don't expect intensity instead expect detailing and finesse. A movie only for the lovers of the genre. I repeat only for the lovers of the genre.
-Best Motion Picture of the Year -Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role -Best Performance by and Actor in a Supporting Role -Best Achievement in Film Editing -Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling -Best Writing, Original Screenplay
Did you also know?
-It is said Matthew McConaughey was on a diet of Chicken, 2 Egg Whites, a Small Pudding and 2 Diet Cokes daily for 4 months. - McConaughey and Leto respectively won the awards for Best Actor/ Supporting Actor at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards.
TITLE: DALLAS BUYERS CLUB DIRECTED BY: JEAN-MARC VALLÉÉ STARRING: MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, JARED LETO &JENNIFER GARNER RATED: R RATING:07/10 RUNTIME: 117 MINUTES
It is almost impossible to like McConaughey's character - Ron Woodroof - in this film. He is a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, a misogynist, a drug and alcohol abuser and has streaks of violence simmering just under his hateful and hating Texan skin. If there was anyone you would cross the road to avoid, it would be him. And yet McConaughey fills the role with such power and such passion he makes the story utterly gripping. Seldom have 2 hours flown by quicker in the cinema. There have been three physical transformations this year that have made you think "that can't be good for him": the first was Christian Bale's pot belly in "American Hustle". And then there's McConnaughey and co-star Jared Leto in this film. Clearly both have been on an extreme diet for a considerable period: less five:two and more seven:zero. Painful to watch: why do actors do this to themselves? The film, based on a true story, tells the story of Woodroof's fight to stay alive against the ravages of Aids in the mid-80s: he refuses to lay down and die, as all the doctor's predict, and goes on a one man crusade to identify and bring into the country - against the US Food and Drug Administration's approval - experimental drug combinations that will prolong his life. During this journey, of course, he comes into close contact with the gay community that in his previous life he so despised: and the mirror of his own past views is held up to him during his dramatic role-reversal through the reaction of his former 'friends' and colleagues to both himself and his new-found gay friends. This sets up a devastatingly powerful and emotional story.
Also of note are McConaughey's two supporting actors: Jennifer Garner as his doctor friend Eve and (particularly) Jared Leto as his transsexual friend Rayon: receiving a well-deserved Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
A word of caution for those easily offended: Dallas Buyer's Club features extensive sex and drug taking scenes, and whilst not as extreme as "Wolf of Wall Street", this is also perhaps another one not to take your maiden aunt or squirming teenage son/daughter to see. But for everyone else, this is a highly recommended film. Delightfully un-sugar-coated, thoughtful and gripping, and a triumph for the leads, the writers (Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack) and Canadian-born director Jean-Marc Vallée ("The Young Victoria").
(If you enjoyed this review, "follow the Fad" at http://bobmann447.wordpress.com... thanks).
My major criticism centers around the continuing inaccuracies of Hollywood and very simplistic portrayals of the complicated themes and issues affecting the players during the 1980s and 1990s during the US AIDS epidemic.
I understand the target audience is not going to need to know accurate history, certainly not in America, and also appreciate this is strictly intended for entertainment. I just find it ironic that political extremes always denounce propaganda while continuing to use it for their own means. I found the script very poorly done and wholly inaccurate with such severe bias after researching the real Ron Woodroof.
Conflicting information 1. Ron likely wasn't as extremely homophobic as portrayed. He was never as confrontational as depicted in the movie. He was also never in the rodeo. 2. All the treatments he was marketing were wholly ineffective in treating HIV/AIDS. Read for yourself on DDC (Zalcitabine) and others were downright harmful. In fact due to the lack of follow-up of the patients, many may have had an accelerated demise due to some of the combinations used (impossible to say of course). 3. The FDA had already loosened some of the restrictions on drug trials to fast track treatments. There were never any dramatic seizures like in the film. 4. Dr. Saks, who was horribly portrayed by Jennifer Garner and Rayon are fictional for dramatic elements only.
I could continue on. My issue is that proponents always say how great it is of Hollywood to raise awareness on a film. I appreciate this but it distorts history and harms how people react to ongoing crisis if this should arise again. It is like trying to pass on an action movie as based on a reality when we know it should be purely for entertainment.
Many reviewers have been happy to describe this movie as sensitive or daring or brave. In fact, it's just another piece of Hollywood exploitation, as timid and untruthful in its way as Philadelphia, and far more concerned with being a showcase for actors than with the truth of the story it purports to be championing.
Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor winners here were well deserved, but I think Best Picture would've been justified. I thought Jared Leto's portrayal of the transvestite was amazing, so convincing in terms of fragility and the frustration of being a woman in a man's body, in addition to all the little quirks of mannerism exhibited by effeminate men.
There is so much in this film for the budding film student to consider, it's an absolute treasure of essay worthy material. The single most important topic in the film for me is a man's right to choose alternative medicine as a legitimate treatment for disease, in this case the focus was AIDS, but could also be seen in the context of cancer or anything else.
The ethics of big pharma is covered which is held in contrast to the ethics of the individual entrepreneur played brilliantly here by Matthew McConaughey. While the activities of big pharma are protected by law, the corruptive profit motive at the core of American industry is suggested in the film to be at odds with the public's best interests when McConaughey's entrepreneurial character offers a homeopathic alternative which appears to work. The authorities try everything in the book to put him out of business but the entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of his American Dream to challenge the pharmaceutical industry establishment refuses to concede defeat.
There is a sting in the tail however and I wont mention it here because it is a spoiler for those yet to see this movie. There is a lot more to this movie which includes bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, class struggle, to name but a few of society's least attractive characteristics. Dallas Buyer's Club is a huge dose of gritty realism we haven't seen for quite a while and a true story it appears. Go see it!
Matthew dies 7 years after being diagnosed HIV+. He lived the most after the news of HIV+ blood in his veins.
The fact that movie bears all along the reel time is that there is loneliness no matter how much sweetness Hollywood and POP songs and Ads and sitcoms and popular fiction and all coat the reality with, there are guys who go to bed alone wondering what went wrong and how feeling sad for oneself is gay. And this is what the film is about, the coldness because we expect a happy end, a lovely glossy life like walmart outlets and richness. People try to find passion, they trick themselves into thinking that probably if they get rich, their lives will get better they try to escape accepting that it is all illusion. It's just love which men seek to give and feel. Jared happens to play this thing in his character and he did a splendid job.