Dallas Buyers Club is, on paper, the story of an electrician Ron Woodroof and his unorthodox methods of treating AIDS patients. In reality, it is the story of redemption and purpose. This sounds all too familiar because redemption and purpose is what Matthew McConaughey has done with his career; the wannabe comedic star of Fool’s Gold and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is gone, replaced with the mature actor of Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street. McConaughey’s success is definite, as Dallas Buyers Club is one of the year’s best film.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee gives an interesting portrait of 1970s Texas. While the film isn’t directed with a particularly new or fresh style, the style works for the film and allows the audience to keep focus on the performances. The film is edited with extreme precision; each character feels completely three dimensional and the audience always has a sense of environment and tone. Specific sequences are edited with patience, which allows the audience to fully grasp each individual character’s emotions and journey, while others are quickly cut in order to maintain pacing and tension.
Another one of the film’s highlights is Craig Borten and Melisa Wallacks’ excellent script. Perhaps the year’s most underrated film, Dallas Buyers Club has an incredible script full of great characters, riveting drama, and some really surprisingly humor. As previously noted every character is completely three dimensional and have countless great moments of depth. The humor in the film, specifically in the relationship between Matthew McConaughey and Jared Letos’ characters, elevates the film to another level and make it a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
From a pure technical standpoint, Dallas Buyers Club is incredible. Every environment is rich with culture and significance, and the costume design and makeup only emphasize the great performances, which is specifically relevant to Jared Leto’s performance. In specific scenes where McConaughey’s character is experiencing symptoms of the AIDS virus the sound design is expertly crafted and puts the audience inside the situation.
Until now, it seemed that Chiwetel Ejiofer’s performance in 12 Years a Slave would be handed all the major trophies. However, the incredible performance by Matthew McConaughey carries even more depth, humanity, and range. Dallas Buyers Club is the story of how a man was able to redeem his past and find his purpose in life. McConaughey knows this, and his performance is truly that of a changed man. His performance from the beginning of the film to the end is radically different, but his character has enough quirks and uniqueness to be thoroughly entertaining, interesting, and surprisingly relatable throughout the film’s runtime.
Any conversation about Dallas Buyers Club is incomplete without mentioning the fantastic performance by Jared Leto. Leto has an incredible range and is able to play a completely ridiculous character and bring it down to Earth. The performance is so believable that it is difficult to see any traces of the actor at all, with the performance completely reflecting the character. The chemistry between Leto and McConaughey is rich and organic, and transcends between both dramatic and comedic.
Dallas Buyers Club is an excellent film elevated by outstanding performances and great writing. It’s a true testament to a film when it can make audience members cry and laugh at the same time, and Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto give the best performances of their careers and some of the best performances of the year. The film has a great message and never has a dull moment. Dallas Buyer’s Club is one of the year’s best films. Grade: A