“Dallas Buyers Club” is tremendously powerful film with McConaughey and Leto deserving of Oscar nods
I attended the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club on Thursday night and have to tell you to definitely make some plans to see this powerful movie when it hits theaters on November 1.
It was so absorbing that through some of it, I forgot where I was.
It stars Matthew McConaughey as real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live.
From the first frame, it is not the beefcake McConaughey we expect to see in his movies. This is an emaciated man who is clearly ill and barely holding it together. He is down to 135 pounds in this movie after losing 50 pounds for the role and it makes his fragility quite real.
The performance is convincing on so many levels. This is not a guy we especially like because he’s a jerk and a homophobe. But he grows as he fights for his life and takes his destiny into his own hands.
It’s the performance of McConaughey’s career and he not only deserves to be nominated for an Oscar, he deserves to win it. I have not seen the rest of the competition yet but I have felt this certain very rarely – last year after seeing Daniel-Day Lewis in Lincoln and more than 20 years ago after seeing Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.
In the film, McConaughey’s character tracks down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal.
He bypasses the establishment and joins forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts to establish a hugely successful “buyers’ club” that made alternative treatments available to AIDS sufferers.
His unlikely business alliance and bond with a transsexual woman played by Jared Leto humanizes Woodroof as does his friendship with a doctor played by Jennifer Garner.
Garner does solid work in the film but Leto is a revelation. He is unrecognizable in most scenes after losing approximately 40 pounds for the role. It’s a heartbreaking portrayal of an AIDS patient and drug addict who is dying but retains a charm and grace until the end.
The film takes you back to the mid-80s when so little was being done for AIDS sufferers and drugs such as AZT were being approved at far too slow a rate. What a horror of a time – a time that brought out the worst in some and the best in others.
The audience at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Samuel Goldwyn Theatre was clearly moved by this film and McConaughey, Leto and Garner were among the cast members in attendance.
Also on hand was the outstanding actor Denis O’Hare who plays a doctor in the movie who is working on clinical trials for AZT. I chatted with the actor a bit at the after-party and he really is a class act – good in all that he does.