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|Dallas Buyers Club|
dir Jean-Marc Vallee
scr Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
prd Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter
with Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Michael O'Neill, Griffin Dunne, Kevin Rankin, JD Evermore, James DuMont, Jane McNeill
release US 1.Nov.13, UK 7.Feb.13
13/US Focus 1h57
Odd couple: Leto and McConaughey
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A companion piece to award-winning documentaries like We Were Here and How to Survive a Plague, this involving true drama focusses on a disgraceful time in American history when businesses and governments essentially sentenced millions to death by refusing to respond to the Aids epidemic. It's a potent story that features strong performances.
In 1985, Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is a homophobic, womanising electrician who refuses to believe that he's dying from Aids, like Rock Hudson. Desperate for treatment, he ignores his doctors (O'Hare and Garner) to get his own supply of AZT, which makes him feel worse. So he heads to Mexico and discovers a range of helpful treatment America's Food and Drug Administration refuses to approve. So he starts importing them himself, forming a members' club to circumvent the law. Reluctantly working with transgendered Rayon (Leto), he becomes a regular target for the FDA's lawyer (O'Neill).
Ron's customers are willing to pay a small fortune for a slim chance to survive longer than the horrifically short diagnoses they get from hospitals. And as his business picks up he travels the world from Japan to Israel to China to Holland for the latest cutting-edge meds. So it's seriously infuriating to watch the US government continually work to shut him down and instead give people the toxic, ineffective, vastly overpriced AZT.
McConaughey is solid as the not-always-likeable Ron, an abrasive man who has his narrow mind blown open as the story progresses. He's not that much nicer in the end, but the startlingly gaunt McConaughey does a great job at drawing a whisper of our sympathy. Garner is also terrific as the face of compassion in the story, while Leto is the movie's heart and soul, delivering a wrenchingly powerful performance that continually surprises us.
Director Vallee cuts through the colourful 1980s period details to reveal raw human tenacity and mercy. Watching this redneck idiot turn into a champion for the people is seriously inspirational, especially as we see that the key to his success is learning to empathise with the people around him, even if he can't admit it to himself. It's a wonderful story that's packed with timeless relevance. And it reminds us of a dark period in American history that can never be repeated.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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