By Laurie Coker
Matthew McConaughey had one heck of a year last year, but this year will most likely prove his best year yet! With MUD and now Dallas Buyers Club, a role for which he reportedly lost nearly forty pounds, he surely will get, at the very least, an Oscar nod for one if not both of these extremely well-crafted roles. Dallas Buyers Club, based on a true story, showcases McConaughey’s vast talent for vivid, multidimensional characterization.
Based on the story of real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, who in all his homophobic, womanizing, partying, binging glory, found himself facing death. Diagnosed with HIV in the early days of the disease, doctors tell Woodroof to get his affairs in order. Determined to beat the disease, shunned by his friends and denied life saving drugs, he goes on a rocky journey to find alternative treatments and save his, and by a matter of course, extend the lives of countless others. Ron Woodroof wanted to live more than anyone imagined and as a result, he learned tolerance and opened his heart and mind.
As noted, McConaughey gives a remarkable, award winning performance, moving from foul-mouth, boozing, bull rider to foul-mouth, and dogged advocate for people with HIV and AIDS. Ron is a man willing to do anything to save his life, even going up against the government. McConaughey never expects the audience’s sympathy, nor does his character merit it, but somehow, we do sympathize with this wholly disgusting and dislikeable man. As equally impressive, however, is costar Jared Leto, whose portrayal of Ron’s transsexual, best friend Rayon is awe-inspiring. Were he not up against McConaughey, he, too, would warrant a best actor nod. Clad in women’s clothing, as thin as a rail, Rayon wriggles her way into Ron’s cold heart.
So much about Dallas Buyers Club pleases, regardless of the seriously dark subject matter. From a quality ensemble cast to the realistic depictions of people and the times, director Jean-Marc Vallée captures the personal struggles of victims of what once was considered a death sentence. On one level we see a battle with the government and big drug companies, but on the other the film rests on its well-defined, extraordinarily portrayed characters, especially McConaughey and Leto and they carry it superbly on their skeletal shoulders. In my grade book, it earns a perfect score – A+