Dallas Buyers Club is a film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. The film tells the true story of Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic Texan who is diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s and given thirty days to live. After trials with the FDA-approved drug AZT prove unsuccessful, Woodruff begins smuggling drugs into the United States from all over the world that help alleviate the symptoms of the disease and give himself a chance to live longer; however, these drugs are not approved by the FDA, and Woodruff finds himself having to continually evade detection from the federal government. With help from a transgender AIDS patient named Rayon (Jared Leto) and a defiant doctor (Jennifer Garner), Woodruff establishes the “Dallas Buyers Club,” a way for AIDS patients to get easy access to illegal, life-saving medicines.
Dallas Buyers Club was definitely one of the best films that 2013 had to offer. Not only were there stellar acting performances, which I will get to in a moment, but the film also presents an inspiring story about staring into the face of death and choosing to live. The director, Vallée, is relatively unknown to the Hollywood community aside from his film The Young Victoria (2009), but this stimulating cinematic effort will definitely put him on the map in Tinseltown. The screenwriters, Borten and Wallack, are nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and rightly so; the script flowed fluently and provided each actor with a wide range of opportunities to make a memorable dramatic performance.
Besides the well-written script and the competent directing job by Vallée, the acting in this movie truly sets it apart from some of the other releases from the previous year. For starters, Jennifer Garner gives a heartfelt performance as Dr. Eve Saks, the physican who risks her career to help Woodruff. Many critics have overlooked her impact on the movie, but I refuse to do so—she makes the film work in a huge, emotional way!
But now to the two award-worthy acting performances: Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey. Both Leto (the front-man for one of my favorite bands, 30 Seconds to Mars) and McConaughey have already received Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor awards, respectively, from the Golden Globe Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and all of this praise is quite deserved for both men. Leto’s role as Rayon is unbelievably astonishing, and I mean that in the best way possible. He is truly convincing as a transgender woman, and his performance is one for the ages. McConaughey also gives the greatest performance of his career as Woodruff. It is well documented that he lost 47 pounds for the role, but my admiration for his performance goes well beyond the weight loss—McConaughey simply knocked this dramatic role out of the park! His role is the perfect combination of humor and devastation, and I would not be surprised if he takes home the Oscar for Best Actor. Dallas Buyers Club is rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, nudity, and drug use.
Dallas Buyers Club trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs1kpGNSRVk
Academy Award nominations for Dallas Buyers Club:
Best Picture (Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers)
Actor in a Leading Role (Matthew McConaughey)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Jared Leto)
Best Film Editing (John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews)
Best Original Screenplay (Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack)