Dallas Buyers Club – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

dallas buyers clubDallas Buyers Club – 4/5 – There’s many things that I can say about this movie.  For all that I could say, the one thing that comes to mind to define this film is character.  As amazing as a film can be in all different aspects of its art form, when you focus on character progression, the rest of everything else will fall into place.  With that being said, this film (as a whole) is a strong, pristine and mesmerizing tale of truths, persistence and overall endearing of life.  In dealing with the trials of one man’s man struggle with having AIDS in the 1980s, you become witness to not only his struggles, but his drive to provide true value to life.  In all, this movie might have some minor flaws, but in the end, it is simply a great film.

Premise:  It is the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic is in full bloom.  Within the struggles against a raging disease, one man (Ron Woodroof) works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need.  Within that fight, friendships will be tested, and one man must learn certain truths, as well as become someone he never knew he could become.

At the heart of the film is the main character Ron Woodroof, who is played by actor Matthew McConaughey.  McConaughey gives a tour de force performance as Ron Woodroof, and quite possibly his best acting job to date; even better than the other film he was the lead this year, Mud.  As Ron Woodroof, he gives us a man who is arrogant, gritty and dug into some very strong prejudices about race, gender and sexual preference.  In the beginning, you get to see the tough rodeo/Texas male side of him, as he indulges in some hard nose rough material (sex, drugs, alcohol and other unwarranted actions).  Quickly, the film flips the script on him, once he gets diagnose with HIV.  From this point, you watch this man who, hesitantly but gradually, begins to realize the truth of his circumstance, and starts to go down a path of real maturation and redemption.  This unraveling of his arrogant side brings out an endearing individual who is still strong in his rough antics, but is more aware of the realities of his life and the world around him.  His interactions with other AIDS/HIV victims, as well as other major players in the film are what drive his character development.  Within those interactions, his dialogue is strong and abusive, but his mannerisms are real and truly commanding when he is on screen.  With this, you feel heart in his journey; as well as believe his new found faith in life.  Opposite him in a strong supporting role is his transvestite partner in fighting against the disease, Rayon.  He is played by actor, by Jared Leto.  If McConaughey gives a performance of his life as the main character, Leto does the same in this supporting role.  In providing a strong and colorful character, he provides wealth in layers.  In those layers, Leto emphasizes a very outlandish, flamboyant personality, as well as a ‘book’ that shows raw truths to his friend, Ron.  In providing a contrast to Ron’s prejudices, it helps builds a relationship that is fragile, but pure to the core.  In shedding another perspective in life, the layers created by Rayon are endearing, but helps provide that ‘heart’ in Ron’s Journey.  Leto’s acting has real depth, intrigue and despair, especially when things hit dramatic points in the film.  You become attached to him and his flamboyancy, and sadden by the tragedies that befallen him.  Both these actors (I believe) are going to get OSCAR nods for these roles.  In lesser supporting roles, you have Dennis O’Hare as Dr. Sevard, Steven Zahn as Tucker and Jennifer Garner as Dr. Eve Saks.  These popular actors/actresses do a great job in providing qualities characters in support of the other two.  They are not just regular plot devices, but integral parts in moving the story’s themes and purpose along, as well as affecting the growth of the Ron Woodroff and Rayon.

The direction of the film is molded by two common themes; characterization and historical drama.  Within the introduction of the film, you get the theme of characterization through the trials and tribulations of Ron Woodroff and Rayon’s struggle with HIV/AIDS.  As you watch his struggle with this disease, the characterization is infused with the historical drama, which is the depiction of Ron’s fight against the AIDS epidemic, drug companies and usage of alternative medicine in the 1980s.  With the intertwining of these two themes, you get a molding of obvious truths, as well as movie magic flavor that helps move the mundane of the generalities in the films premise into an effective drama.  In the first act (as mentioned above), the film focuses on the building of the main two characters; Ron Woodroff and Rayon.  As the film builds the connection and personalities of these characters and their struggles, the film emphasize the dark sides of both, which helps build the core focus of their bonding friendship.  What also is shown through building these two characters is the underlying struggle of the ‘public perception’ of the gay community and AIDS.  This combination helps bring you closer to these characters, as well as provide context to the situation of the times.  Once the film brings these characters together, you become witness to their goals: to fight the disease and fight the system that is providing bad treatment.  In doing that, they co-found the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, where people can get alternative drugs to treat their AIDS.  Once the film moves into the second act (the focus of the club), it moves towards the ‘historical drama’ theme, as you see how Woodruff struggles with his fight to provide a ‘better method’ of treatment against the wishes of the FDA and government.  In this struggle, the limelight is showing the perspective of the inside workings of the government and hospital system, the corruption of certain process, as well as how all befalls the common people, especially those caught with the deadly disease.  The circumstances of the issues are overwhelming, but they are done without overbearing you with biases.  Instead, the director provides a vision of ‘man vs. the world’ perspective, helping you keep into context that at each growing moment and obvious confliction of this epidemic, this is still Woodroff journey and fight for the purpose of living an honest and normal life for him and all the people he works to help.  By the time the film gets to the third act and the climax, it slows down from its fast pace, and the linearity and convenient completeness of loose threads are very underwhelming.  Even in this minor hiccup, it helps provide that ‘full circle’ feeling, as the film sees that ‘peace of mind’ ending for Ron Woodruff and struggling fight.

The visuals of the film are one that provides a ‘grounded’ personality to the ongoing story and characters.  With it being more traditional to its period, you get a great complexion of the buildings, home, attire and overall community functioned in the 1980s.  The score is nonexistent in the film.

Overall, Dallas Buyers Club is a film that I can describe in one word; poignant.  The film provides a claim of raw circumstance, but helps you build it through the characterization of Ron Woodruff and his partner Rayon.  You see this through the historical backdrop, as well as his growth through a destructive disease.  The acting from the main and supporting actors are amazing, as well as the direction of the film.  If you’re a fan of the character films, historical dramas or the actors/actresses involved, this is a film for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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