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Title :Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Release : 22 November 2013 (USA)
Rating :8.0/10
Director:Jean-Marc Vallée
Writers:Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Runtime:1h 57min
Genre :Biography, Drama
Stars :Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013) trailer

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) review

When the Eiffel Tower falls to the ground, when the Great Wall of China crumbles to dust, the Pyramids dissolve into sand and the Statue of Liberty is washed away, one human achievement will stand undiminished by the passage of time. It is, of course, the McConaisance.

Many words have been written reflecting on the critical redemption of Matthew McConaughey, former Hollywood pretty boy who somehow became a darling with critics after a decade of wallowing in the bowels of stomach-turning romantic comedies.

Cinephiles exposed to the grisly likes of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Wedding Planner cussed, moaned, threw DVDs, burnt effigies and ran into brick walls. Anything to alleviate the pain. They were in no mood to forgive.

But watching McConaughey dish out one bang-on performance after another – a gleaming exhibition of scene-chewing acting that began with The Lincoln Lawyer in 2011 and includes Mud, Killer Joe, Bernie, Magic Mike and Wolf of Wall Street – has been something to behold.

The logical conclusion for Matthew is the sweet smell of an Academy Award. This brings us to Dallas Buyers Club, for which the comeback kid is the favourite to win Best Lead Actor.

McConaughey’s performance reflects a familiar path en route to a golden statuette. He lost a shocking amount of weight and got wan, scabby and sick-looking to play real-life AIDS victim and bigot-cum-sort-of-good guy Ron Woodroof. Woodroof was a real-life hero who died in 1992 after a lengthy campaign to increase availability of life extending drugs.

Woodroof begins the film as a crook whose existence is a swirling cesspit of sex, drugs and alcoholism. He collapses out of the blue, wakes up in hospital and has a Walter White-like moment, informed he has 30 days to live. The drinks don’t stop but survival instincts kick in. Woodroof becomes a drug dealer who samples his own supply and distributes medicine the government is reluctant to legalise.

This eases director Jean-Marc Vallée’s drama down the path of a political commentary about how law enforcers bogged down by regulation can work against the motivations on which those laws were founded.

But Vallée keeps the story an intimate affair, matching Woodroof’s wily character and bigoted ways with a troubled transgender accomplice (Jared Leto) who becomes his business partner and, gradually, a trusted friend.

Making a “bad” character “good” can lead to dangerously simplistic flick-switching territory but Vallée and McConaughey get the redemptive element just right, balancing Woodroof’s wicked ways with a message about how change in body and wellbeing can lead to change in heart.

Dallas Buyers Club is a performers’ film, the cast are given ample space to breathe and a director to build it around their strengths. Leto, a sad-eyed counter to McConaughey’s anger and grit, hasn’t been this captivating in a long time. He’s also in the running for an Oscar.

And McConaughey? If the now revered actor doesn’t give an acceptance speech in a few weeks time at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, he will still have a chunk of history assigned to his name. Let us praise, brothers and sisters, the era of the McConaisance.



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