January 29, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club Review

           Despite 2012 being a big year for Matthew McConaughey, 2013 was somehow an even bigger year for the actor who was once stuck in the leading man role in terrible and predictable romantic comedies.  In fact, the actor recently received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.  Dallas Buyers Club has been a massive hit within the industry, and has received a solid welcoming from critics.  So it now seems that Dallas Buyers Club is being considered as the crowning achievement in the so-called “McConaughsance”.  That is quite odd as I found Dallas Buyers Club to be a dud of a film.  There is some solid acting on display, but it’s directed in such a bland fashion and written in such a stereotypical manner that it is impossible to find any of the heart that is front and center in the film’s promotional campaign.

            Dallas Buyers Club follows Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a rodeo cowboy who discovers that he has contracted AIDS during the height of the AIDS crisis.  When Ron finally comes to terms with his predicament after being given thirty days to live, he realizes that he still wants to live a long life.  The only way to do that is to get past the FDA’s strict guidelines and find drugs in Mexico.  With the help of a transgender woman (Jared Leto), Ron tries to stay alive and make some cash along the way by creating a drug-subscription service for those afflicted by AIDS known as the Dallas Buyers Club.  The film is directed by Jean Marc-Vallee and is written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack.

            Dallas Buyers Club is another example of how difficult it really is to create a good film about real-life events.  If you don’t have a director willing to take risks, you are just going to end up with a storyline that goes through the plot in bullet -point fashion.  Unfortunately, this film does just that.  There are very few creative risks being taken by this creative team.  Sure, Vallee tries to inject some style into the film with some flashy editing (especially in the early portions of the film), but that style just rings hollow as it doesn’t bring much to the actual film.  Yet oddly the flashy editing and some other small visual touches were at least something unlike in the second half of the film where the movie ends up feeling like nothing more than a Lifetime movie.

            The acting is solid if nothing special.  A lot of the talk about the actors in this film centers around the weight loss taken on by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.  While that certainly shows a lot of dedication, that dedication doesn’t translate to truly memorable performances.  The only other major performance in the film is Jennifer Garner as a doctor at the hospital that McConaughey and Leto’s characters frequent.  She doesn’t have the material that those two have, but she does as much as she can with it.

            Dallas Buyers Club is an example of what happens when Oscar-bait goes wrong (at least in the creative sense).


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