Dallas Buyers Club (R)

Drama 117 November 15, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
Matthew McConaughey lost 40 pounds to play AIDS victim, entrepreneur, and ad-hoc activist Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club. His figure is so attenuated you can almost hear his bones cracking; his gait is that of a slow-motion alien, his neck one long stretch of tendons. But there's never a moment when you don't see the whole person. McConaughey's Woodruff is a fully rounded "y'all go fuck yourselves" folk hero. Woodruff was a real person, an electrician from Dallas diagnosed with HIV in 1985 -- he'd contracted the virus from a forgotten heterosexual encounter -- and given 30 days to live. Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, shows how Woodruff fought. Unable to partake of the then-experimental AZT, he began obtaining the drug through back channels, selling it at a profit to those in need, and also using it to keep himself alive. Previously, Woodruff had seen AIDS as "the gay disease." But the more he learned about the virus and its possible treatments, the more he came to care about his fellow sufferers. What's remarkable about Dallas Buyers Club is its lack of sentimentality. The movie, like its star, is all angles and elbows, earning its emotion through sheer pragmatism. Woodruff, a man with a job to do, enlists help from a number of acquaintances, usually by first taking advantage of them. They include his physician, Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), and a fellow AIDS patient named Rayon (Jared Leto), a transsexual who, in a marvelous scene, manages to both charm and challenge the (at first) aggressively homophobic Woodruff. They begin a business partnership that evolves into a friendship, bickering like the Honeymooners all the way.
Jean-Marc Vallée Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn, Griffin Dunne Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter Focus Features

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >