Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013)
Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) discovers he has AIDS in 1985, a disease wrongly known as a consequence of being homosexual. He gets to illegally import drugs to treat his condition and help many other patients having the same disease to attenuate the symptoms and live longer than expected.
Based on Craig Borten’s script together with Melissa Wallack and his interviews with the real Ron Woodroof, Dallas Buyers Club is a work of love and admiration towards a real man full of will and far from being perfect. His life before being diagnosed HIV positive was rodeo, drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex with numerous women and a daily job as electrician. He was always trying to figure how to take an extra buck from anything. It is no surprise how he got to start the DBC, shorter for Dallas Buyers Club. At first it was to make money and distribute the drugs without selling it. Members only paid a membership to participate but as he is evolving in this milieu, he wanted to help this community and change things for the better. In many ways, Woodroof is a hero and an anti-hero.
The strongest link in Dallas Buyers Club is the acting of McConaughey as the lead in all its great character study and his amazing physical transformation altogether with his recent judicious choice of roles and the fact that he let his typecast roles to take more chances. Dallas Buyers Club was passed so many times but McConaughey took the risk of this script and gave one of his best performances. With his swag and presence bring truth and just the right amount of arrogance and sensibility for this potential Academy Award winner role.
Along with Jennifer Garner who gives a nice performance as the Dr. Eve Saks and the chameleonic Jared Leto as the transgender Raon those are performances that will leave a strong impression on the film history. For once, we have a story that takes its smaller roles and rise them to fully evolve and interact with the protagonist in a way that it makes a difference in the final film.
Made with a small budget for today’s standards, 5 millions, Jean-Marc Vallée’s first directorial credit to be nominated in the Best Picture category at the Oscars promises great things for this Québécois director. Having liked to different levels his previous films of Black List, C.R.A.Z.Y., and The Young Victoria some visual yet subtle signatures are in Dallas Buyers Club. For example, his use of focus on a deep element in a shot then in the same shot a refocus on an element closer to the camera eye. It is interesting to watch evolve a director that came from the place as I am.
It is already a miracle that this film was made it is even more a blessing that it was nominated at the Oscars for so many major categories. They are fully deserved and it proves that a great story doesn’t need a great budget to make an important motion picture.