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Most helpful customer reviews
98 of 105 people found the following review helpful.
Outstanding AIDS drama, with stellar performances
By Paul Allaer
“Dallas Buyers Club” (2013 release; 117 min.) brings the (real life) story of Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey). As the movie opens, it is July, 1985 (we see a newspaper headline about Rock Hudson being outed with AIDS), and we are at a rodeo in Dallas where Woodroof is getting it on with two girls at the same time, while also placing bets on rodeo riders. A picture is quickly painted of Woodroof as the Texan wild and crazy guy. Yet soon we see him struggling, coughing and generally not feeling well and when he is admitted in the hospital, he gets the shocking news that he is HIV positive and is given only 30 days to live by the doctors. Woodroof goes ballistic and refuses to accept his fate, only to find that the FDA is allowing only one approved drug (ATZ) on the market. Woodroof eventually finds alternative medications in Mexico. To tell you much more would ruin your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.Several comments: first and foremost, let’s talk about Matthew McConaughey’s performance. He will simply blow you away. The very first shot of him (a head shot, in which he physically already looks terrible) is pretty shocking, to be honest (McConaughey reportedly lost 40 lbs. for the film). This role continue’s McConaughey’s recent string of top notch performances (Mud, Killer Joe, Bernie, The Paperboy, just to name those), and surely he will (or at least should) get strong consideration for a Best Actor Oscar nomination. (It just makes you wish that McConaughey wouldn’t have wasted so many years playing those tiresome rom-com roles time and again.) Second, much has been said as well about Jared Leto’s role. He first appears about 30 min. into the movie as the cross-gender dressing gay Rayon, to become Woodroof’s business partner. It most certainly is a great performance (and is openly touted for Best Supporting Actor Oscar) but in my book, it doesn’t come anywhere close to McConaughey’s. Jennifer Garner has a small role as one of the Dallas Mercy hospital doctors, and gets completely blown away by both McConaughey and Leto. Third, this movie is most capably directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallee, who most recently brought us the excellent “Café de Flore”. Fourth, the movie does not put either the FDA or Big Pharma in a kind light, as we are given the impression that both are in cahoots and do not care what is best for the public at large (I have no idea to what extent this was or is the case). Last but not least, there is an excellent collection of songs featured in the movie, with many staples from the 1970s and 80s including a number of T Rex songs (Rayon is obsessed with T Rex’s Marc Bolan). But beware: the movie soundtrack (which is available here on Amazon) features primarily music “inspired by”, rather then “from” the movie, and is not an accurate reflection of what you hear in the movie.”Dallas Buyers Club” makes for an emotionally invested and moving experience that will tuck at your heart. But the acting performance from McConaughey is what makes this movie profoundly memorable. The screening I saw this act recently here in Cincinnati (where it’s been playing already several weeks) was PACKED, leading me to think that this movie will find a larger audience, which is great news. Bottom line, “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful.
Making changes inside the system by working outside the system
By L. Power
1985. A sexually active, straight, carousing, drug abusing Texas rodeo cowboy collapses. At the hospital he is told he has HIV and has less than thirty days to live. Does he succumb to the diagnosis, or does something else happen entirely?Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about Ron Woodruff. I must admit I was unfamiliar with this movie. The ticket seller gave me an unconvincing outline, and I was about to walk away when a couple overhearing our conversation assured me it was a good movie.I am glad to say they were correct. This is the exact type of movie that wins Oscars, and gets many nominations.Matthew Mc Conaughey deserves to be nominated for playing someone battling a deadly disease who takes on big drugs and the FDA, to enable other sufferers like himself to have access to supplements and life saving drugs. He reputedly lost about 40 pounds for the role, and at times does look very gaunt, which gives an added layer of reality to his portrayal.This is a multi faceted movie full of interesting characters, which operates on multiple levels at once. The personal struggle, the parallel struggles and contrasts, and the battle against different facets of authority. Jennifer Garner in a supporting role plays a feisty yet compassionate doctor, while a colleague with more of an eye to profit becomes a doctor shill for big drugs, which are experimental, still unproven, and in the clinical trial stage, and may have toxic side effects, while our protagonist has to chase down a caring and competent doctor in Mexico who was disbarred, for less toxic alternatives.Why does one experimental method, with an unproven drug, take priority over drugs that are unapproved by the FDA? Aren’t drugs undergoing clinical trials also unapproved? In both cases aren’t people offering themselves as guinea pigs, and why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? After all, it is their lives.I loved this movie, and I found the story far more engaging than I thought I would beforehand. I was particularly intrigued and a little surprised by how hard hitting it was against the FDA, and the role it plays in connection with the big pharmaceutical companies, and how it restricts our access even to harmless supplements.I love it when a character is resourceful, so I loved the answers he gives and FDA official when he is stopped and questioned at the border.As often happens in a movie of this nature, there is more than one great performance. An unrecognizable Jared Leto gives a breathtaking performance as a gaunt transvestite also undergoing treatment who Ron meets, and who sources customers for him. Ray like others has to deal with Ron’s homophobia, and it’s refreshing to see how it plays out as the character develops. What I love is the journey the character makes through being confronted with his own mortality, and how that affects a wider circle of people.If Leto does not get an Oscar nomination for his role then there is no justice in Hollywood. He would have to be a leading contender for Best Supporting Actor, as Matthew McConaughey would be for Best Actor.One thing that has impressed me in recent years is McConaughey’s transition from lightweight romcom, and pretty boy roles, to more challenging roles. For instance, I consider Lincoln Lawyer to be one of his best roles as a wheeler dealer lawyer but not the type of role for which an actor is typically nominated. He battles the system but has no weakness.Actors win Oscars for playing two types of roles:One is the psychopath, such as Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood, Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.The second is actors battling disabilities or diseases and/or social injustice. Recently Octavia Spenser won for playing a maid dealing with racial discrimination, Meryl Streep for playing a Prime Minister battling alzheimers, and Christian Bale for playing a former boxer battling drug addiction. Jennifer Lawrence won playing a character battling grief who acts out sexually. Bradley Cooper was nominated for playing someone with bipolar disorder in the same movie. Jeff Bridges won an alcoholic country singer. More recently the trend has been moving toward playing real life characters.As often happens the best movies of the year are released in December and timed for an Oscar run. I think most people will love it
47 of 53 people found the following review helpful.
If nothing else, see the film for some remarkable performances
By M. Oleson
Theatrical review. There may be spoilers.It seems that Matthew McConaughey gets better and better as an actor with each film he’s in. In this depressing (sorry) film he plays the real life Ron Woodroof. Set in 1985 Dallas, Woodroof is a skilled electrician (like his daddy), who plays harder than he works. He’s a womanizing, part time bull-riding racist. He also likes a little “smack” to go with his women and his booze.His negligence gets him a full blown case of HIV and ultimately AIDS. Given a month to live (he makes it 7 years), Woodroof pulls out all the stops to get drugs to help fight the disease. At the time, little was known about the disease but AZT was believed to have a positive effect and was approved for testing. But certainly not in the large doses, Ron was taking. His ill-gotten supply eventually runs out so he goes to Mexico to get some new treatment, none of which includes AZT or any other hard drug for that matter.Given that AIDS mostly affected homosexual men at the time, Woodroof was ostracized by his friends and co-workers. He eventually has to put his homophobic beliefs aside and works with another patient at the hospital to create a “club” where membership includes free medicine. This sidesteps the law against bringing drugs of any kind into the country and reselling them without a proper license.His friend Rayon (a memorable performance by Jared Leto) becomes his assistant and recruiter. Woodroof ends up going to Japan, The Netherlands and China after his access to Mexico is curtailed. All along the way, the DEA and other government entities stifle his ability to get treatment approved in the U. S.The film isn’t pleasant to watch, but does raise the real issues of getting drugs fast tracked for those in dire need who have little to lose. See the film for some remarkable acting performances if nothing else.
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