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"Dallas Buyers Club" Review

The march through Academy Award nominee territory continues with Dallas Buyers Club, the fact-based (as far as movies go, there's loud anger from the LGBT community over changes that were made) story of  Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a rowdy Texas good ol' boy in 1985 who likes to bang women two at a time at the rodeo (uh, what happened to them?) and works as an electrician until an accident sends him to the hospital where he discovers he has full-blown AIDS and about 30 days left to live, so get your affairs in order, Tex.

In the first of several credulity-straining details, he heads to the library (Texans can read? j/k) and within days knows of experimental treatments from around the world, none of which are approved for use in America. While participating in a clinical trial of AIDS drug AZT, he meets Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgendered woman who he initially lashes out at (cuz he's a homophobe, donchaknow?) but eventually teams up with in forming a "buyers club" to distribute drugs purchased from Mexico and elsewhere. He's hoping to skirt the legal issues by charging "memberships" to join the club, but giving away the bundles of drugs and vitamins.

McConaughey and Leto are strongly favored to win Oscars for their work for good reason. While much of the attention to McConaughey's shedding of over 40 lbs for the role, he navigates the transition from roughneck to savior better than the script gives him motivation for. Ever since The Lincoln Lawyer, he's been racking up one interesting performance after another as if he turned 40 and decided he didn't want to be a joke anymore. Leto's been on a lengthy hiatus from acting while concentrating on his band, 30 Seconds To Mars, but he's going to be getting more calls for acting as he never seems to be playing Rayon (a composite character) as a drag role.

While the acting is strong, even from Jennifer Garner as a kindly doctor, the script is lacking. No one seems to have had lives before the beginning of the movie and while some have scoffed at the transition of Woodruff from stereotypical homophobe to the bestie of the Friends of Dorothy, the greater problem is the rapid expertise he seems to develop and some vagueness over whether he's a selfless humanitarian or ruthless profiteer as he sends a sick man with only $50 away with the admonition to come back with another $350. It really could've benefited from more getting to know the characters overall lives scenes to better contextualize their current struggles.

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.


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