Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club

Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club features two wonderfully transformative performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto but a script, though based on true events, that is plagued by emotional hollowness. McConaughey, bowlegged and skeletal, plays Ron Woodroof, a Dallas electrician and rodeo bull-rider, who was diagnosed with HIV back in 1985 and given 30 days to live. He rejects the diagnosis, defiantly declaring he's not homosexual and so can't possibly have HIV and rejects an offer to take part in trials for an experimental drug, AZT. An inveterate horn dog, Woodroof changes his mind as his mind as his body, and libido, succumbs to the ravages of the disease. While in the hospital for treatment he meets Rayon / Raymond, a cross-dressing hustler who becomes Woodroof's partner in a scheme to smuggle vitamins and mineral supplements into the country and sell them to HIV patients. Abandoned by his rodeo friends and hounded by the FDA, Woodroof finds himself fighting both his disease and the system. McConaughey and Leto deliver fine performances that are more than stunts but still lack the resonance needed to fully connect with the audience. Vallee spends little time exploring the nature of Woodroof's transformation from ignorant, racist homophobe and a scene between Rayon and his disapproving father, who oddly looks younger than Rayon, is painfully off-key. Vallee lets the viewer assume that Woodroof's proximity to the mouthy but clearly self-loathing Rayon was enough to break through Woodroof's tough exterior. I, for one, wasn't buying it.

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Queen & Slim

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