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Movie review: Dallas Buyers Club

From tragedy comes a beautiful triumph

Focus Features

November 23, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CST

Dallas Buyers Club redefines desperate times and desperate measures. The story of one man’s crusade to find treatment for AIDS takes shape around a hostile Dallas environment and unyielding FDA restriction.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a bull-rider, a racist, a homophobe, a drug addict and he is also HIV positive. He will stop at nothing to find a safer substitute for AZT, the only HIV and AIDS treatment that existed in 1985. With a 30-day prognosis, Ron sets out to save his own life and ends up making some unlikely friends and changes people’s lives for good.

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McConaughey and Jared Leto execute perfect performances. Not only are their physical transformations stunning, they are captivating from beginning to end. Gone are the days when McConaughey only played fluffy love interests in sub-par rom-coms. McConaughey delivers as a man who is struggling with a disease that is eating him alive and a culture that is shutting him out. His desperation is apparent and his struggle palpable, but his growth is most inspiring. A particularly moving scene with Leto’s transsexual character, Rayon, brings out the best in both of them and the worst of the culture. Leto not only makes a beautiful woman, but also gives a performance that will make everyone fall for him. Their journey in pioneering treatment is inspiring, but Ron and Rayon’s journey as business partners and later as friends is beautiful. Come March 2, they should both have new statues to add to their mantles.

Director Jean-Marc Vallée does an incredible job of embodying the feeling of HIV/AIDS through poignant camerawork and strategically placed brain-piercing sounds. The whole film has a washed-out yellow hue, creating a grungy, hopeless environment.

Despite the reality and gravity of the situation, Ron and Rayon’s persistence is commendable and stunning. They set an example for everyone; life is meant for the living and 30 days could easily be 3000.

Vox Rating: V V V V V

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