Ron Woodrof loved his cocaine, his women and his rodeo. He was also somewhat of a sado-masochist – perhaps that explains why he failed to notice himself wasting away. Enter Matthew McConaughey, whose 17kg weight loss playing the unlikely medical activist hasn’t weakened his on-screen presence. If anything, it has given him the wily, taut look of a man desperate to survive.
This is a film 20 years in the making and while it doesn’t feel as grand in scope, it’s a story with something to say, essentially a character-driven tale about a redneck cowboy facing his death. A few questions arise, one being why neither Woodrof nor his friends noticed he was so gaunt. But McConaughey, whose extreme physical and emotional commitment to the role makes him thoroughly deserving of his Golden Globe, is incredible in Woodrof’s skin, allowing even his worst traits a forgivable way to shine through.
When he begins to fight his disease and the injustices of those also suffering, McConaughey’s transformation is wholly satisfying – as is Jared Leto’s Golden-Globe-winning portrayal of transsexual Rayon, in which Leto amazingly transcends his smug personality. Rayon’s charismatic cheek adds a levity to a script somewhat laden with pharmaceutical references. Jennifer Garner as the sympathetic doc ain’t bad either.
Director Jean-Marc Valle doesn’t shy away from the visceral nature of the victims’ lifestyles or the disease, showing via woozy handheld photography their sex and drug lifestyle and declining health. Given the lack of over-sentimentality, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s not the most emotionally engaging film. But Dallas Buyers Club is worth seeing for the impressive performances alone.
‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Movie Times