It’s been a bit of a tough go trying to find a way to review this one, because a couple of the performances are top-notch. But the storyline takes the safe route throughout, with a plot that mostly plays like tract. Matthew McConaughey looks like a skeleton playing AIDS-infected homophobe Ron Woodroof, which would be more than enough for the myopic Academy to nominate him for an Oscar, even if he wasn’t very good in it(thankfully, he is). And Jared Leto will receive much praise for making a very pretty girl, but he turns in a finely-nuanced portrayal too. Jennifer Garner, on the other hand, is terrible. But if we all chip in this holiday season, maybe we can buy her a second expression. Mrs. Affleck is wooden throughout. Some might say it runs in the family.
It’s 1985, and Ron Woodroof(an undeniably charismatic Matthew M)is a hard-drinking, promiscuous, drug-addled, gay-bashing rodeo cowboy that contracts the AIDS virus and is given a month to live. But he survives for years by exhaustively researching the disease, and beginning a smuggling operation that obtains experimental drugs designed to contain the HIV virus. He spits in the face of the FDA(BOO! Evil, corporate drones!), and teams up with a similarly-ill, flamboyant transvestite(a fine Mr. Leto). Somehow he learns to overcome his whole gay-hating thing, and also enlist the help of a maverick doctor(the unimpressive Ms. Garner). Woodroof’s “Dallas Buyers Club” keeps him breathing for years, while also extending the lives of countless others, as the search for an official FDA cure struggles on.
One major issue I have with the film is that I detect that sizable portions of “Dallas Buyers Club” are full of shit, so it makes me wonder about the rest of it. Much of the story plays fast and loose with the established facts, and most of the characters are either “good” or “evil” in that typical bio-pic style. It’s also obvious to see that the film is somewhat irresponsible, as the drug AZT eventually played a major role in inhibiting the HIV virus. Early on, AZT becomes the biggest “bad guy” in the movie. So, why should you see it? For the excellent work of McConaughey and Leto for one. Also, some solid pacing and direction from helmer Jean-Marc Vallee. If only the screenplay gave character traits and transitions a bit more complexity(like Woodroof’s sudden noble abstinence), the finished product could’ve really soared instead of just preached. Grade: B-