Sunday, February 2, 2014

Video review: "Dallas Buyers club"

Has any actor ever squandered his career with better efficiency than Matthew McConaughey, then reclaimed it with such a superior run of movies? The former star of “Failure to Launch” has had one terrific role after another as of late, capped off by an Oscar-nominated performance in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

He plays Ron Woodruff, a real-life Texas playboy who in 1985 discovered he was carrying the HIV virus. In a time and a place where that meant automatic ostracism from his crowd of good-ole-boy buddies, Ron became a pioneer in smuggling non-legalized drugs into the U.S. to help a clientele of mostly homosexual and transgender men cling to life.

McConaughey and co-star Jared Leto, who plays a transvestite hooker, Rayon, who becomes Ron’s partner in crime, both starved themselves to the point of emaciation for their roles. There’s no vanity in these transformations, however, as the actors barely even resemble themselves.

Ron and Rayon become unlikely friends, a relationship at first based on convenience but eventually on trust and genuine warmth.

One of the beauties of the film is that director Jean-Marc VallĂ©e and screenwriters Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack never go for the easy emotional outpouring. Ron starts the movie as a hateful, reckless bigot, and by the end he’s only changed by a few turns of the screw. But in learning to do for others, he finds a messy sort of grace.

 “Dallas Buyers Club” is a terrific, somber and enlightening look at a period in history where people forced to the margins of society had to look out for each other -- by any means necessary.
Alas, video extras are rather scant, with only a few deleted scenes and a making-of featurette.



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