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Dallas Buyers Club - Film Review

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by Gary Yeates (subscribe)
Baby booming freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Gary Yeates is now temporarily nesting back in his home town Sydney and pretending, albeit unsuccessfully to live a Gen Y life. His blog site; www.thegreyglobe.com
Published January 28th 2014
From social hardhead to drug dealer with a conscience


Set in the mid 80s during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, The Dallas Buyers Club is based on the true story (albeit with a liberal smattering of film maker's license) of Ron Woodroof.

Image Source: Pinnacle Films


Played by Matthew McConaughey, Woodroof is a character not shy on human frailties. Ron Woodroof, bronco bucking Texan with a penchant for a bet, a drink, drugs and no strings attached one night flings.

This life of self-indulgence takes a backside over apex flip when diagnosed with HIV following a heterosexual soiree with a virus carrying partner. Given 30 days to live, we witness a transformation of the inspirational kind. "Cometh the hour, cometh the man."

Image Source: Pinnacle Films


A crash course on the virus, a pseudo HIV 101, and Woodroof uncovers the Holy Grail of alternative treatments south of the border and the types of drugs unapproved in the US of A.

Initially engaged in a process of self-interest, Woodroof rapidly and inadvertently morphs from blue chip homophobe to social warrior fighting for the marginalised.

Image Source: Pinnacle Films


Aided by a posse of good old fashioned social outcasts, people he himself shunned in those free-wheeling days, Woodroof establishes his makeshift Dallas Buyers Club where people infected with the HIV virus can purchase those life-extending drugs smuggled into the country. Chapter 2 sees Ron Woodroof the drug smuggling dealer with a conscience.

Image Source: Pinnacle Films


Matthew McConaughey too has continued his career transformation in this role. From shirts-off rom-com Valentino a decade back to actor with integrity and ever-increasing street cred.

He dropped 20kgs for the role which should make him a pin-up boy for Weight Watchers. This weight loss was not simply papering over the cracks of a flawed performance. McConaughey is an actor of talent and Dallas Buyers Club is the ideal vehicle to showcase it. This edgy portrayal won McConaughey the Golden Globe for best performance in a drama and he looks short-priced for the Oscar come the northern Spring.

Sidekick Jared Leto also seems primed for similar honours for Best Supporting Actor. Playing Rayon, a cross-dressing transgender reads like a larger than life, sassy personality. Leto, however, produces a subtle performance balancing a confident on the outside persona hiding the inner issues of a transgender surviving in a society of hard knocks.

Image Source: Pinnacle Films


Canadian director Jean Marc Vallee has created an emotional roller coaster but he has worked hard at siphoning off the schmaltz. He does this through liberal doses of sardonic wit and avoiding soppy sound-tracking, in fact no soundtrack at all.

He keeps the chronological time frame of the film creeping forward via cold hard cuts to a title board detailing the number of days since Woodroof's diagnosis. As the 30 days breezes by and way beyond, there is an intangible sense of hope that there may some light at the end for our hero.

This film has all the indie feel that movie true believers love but also the box office burly that will keep the producers smiling. Everyone's a winner, including the ticket buying movie goer.



All images appear courtesy of Pinnacle films.
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*Gary Yeates was invited as a guest
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Why? Well-spent box office dollars. A simply wonderful cinema experience
Where: In cinemas
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