“Oh, I’m the drug dealer? No, you’re the fuckin’ drug dealer. I mean, goddamn, people are dyin’. And y’all are up there afraid that we’re gonna find an alternative without you.”
Dallas Buyers Club has been on my personal must-watch movie list for 2013. It is loosely based on a true story of one man and his effort to survive after he was diagnosed as HIV positive with only 30 days left to live.
Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a redneck cowboy, gambling in Rodeo, banging chicks and drinks his whiskey without a care in the world. When a workplace accident land him in a hospital, he did not expect the extra news the doctor delivered, he’s positive. The doctors sentenced him 30 days to live, a verdict he did not care for. In the 80s AIDS was still synonymous to homosexuals, given the nature of the disease most likely contaminate through unprotected sex (which relates to barebacking culture), and most people believe it is a disease of the gays. There were no remedy, it was a death sentence. But Ron refuse to give up, he move heaven and earth to get himself a cure, or at least strive to live much, much longer.
I love how grey everything in Dallas Buyers Club is. This is a film without a stark black and white. Our main character is a homophobic redneck, trying to find drugs to remedy his sickness, and after he found it, he buy it at a large quantity and sell it to other people, much to the annoyance of the FDA who prohibits these cures and deeming them to be illegal. Yet, in a weird way he is a saint, the knight in shining armour for the gay men who suffers from the diseases. His unlikely wingman is an MTF transgender, Rayon (Jared Leto), who did heroin and yet willingly sacrifice himself for Ron. Then there’s the Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) who are torn between helping her patients and following the code of honor she took under her oath as a doctor. These ambiguity in the characters became an intriguing factor of the film, made the story more nuanced and have this unexpected complexities.
Obviously an indie with a excruciatingly tight budget, Dallas Buyers Club prove to be a rare gem that deserves more acknowledgement than what it got. Given the source material that can easily become a sappy, depressing story, instead offered as a meticulous character study. The transformative journey of Ron Woodroof is fascinating to see, having AIDS probably put that much perspective on anyone, from the homophobe bigot to the savior. Nothing is overblown here, Vallée naturalistic approach kept the story delivered in a grounded manner, it did not overdramatize, instead treating the emotional turmoil of the film with subtlety and lightness. A lot of shots that i love from this one, especially the beginning and the ending which is a poignant parallel that emphasize the tagline of the film ‘Dare To Live’. One of my favorite though was when Woodroof is appear to be having a personal conversation in his own head with the almighty, yet he was sitting right at the edge of the stage of a strip club.
Both lead and supporting actors, McConaughey and Leto, endure an extreme physical transformation for their respective roles. Such a high commitment indeed to accompany their riveting performances. McConaughey stubborn determination to live made the fragility of his physique seemed formidable instead. Leto performance reminds me that he is a good actor that sometimes made bad decisions, but this is definitely a good one for him, giving a compelling performance under the drag and heavy makeup. Both of the actor made the humanistic touch of the film even more pronounced their performance made the good script become a great film.
Wonderful little gem indeed :)
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013)
GENRE Drama, Biopic
DIRECTOR Jean-Marc Vallée | PRODUCER Robbie Brenner, Nathan Ross, Rachel Rothman | WRITER Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack | CINEMATOGRAPHER Yves Bélanger | EDITOR Martin Penza, Jean-Marc Vallée | STUDIO Truth Entertainment, Voltage Pictures | DISTRIBUTOR Focus Features | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 116 minutes | BUDGET $5 Million | RATING R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, nudity, and drug use | RELEASE November 1, 2013
STARRING Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
DID YOU KNOW? The movie definitely have trouble getting off the ground, in the 1990s Director/Actor pairing Dennis Hopper/Woody Harrelson was attached to the project but financial backing was impossible to secure. After that Marc Forster/Brad Pitt and Craig Gillespie/Ryan Gosling was trying to get the movie made. But it was only after financed with the help ofMatthew McConaughey the film finally made, even though still under a very limited budget.
PS: After Lee Pace in Soldier’s Girl, it’s Jared Leto as Rayon. Both are men with beautiful eyebrows that make beautiful FTM transgenders. I’m sensing a pattern here XD