Drakkarium Reviews: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas-Buyers-Club-Feature We find ourselves finally revisiting the Oscar nominated movie reviews.  Life is crazy, and finding time to just sit down and write is a difficult task.  Moreover, finding time to write about movies I would normally not find myself caring about is much more daunting.  I have a niche when it comes to the movies I enjoy, and as far as it goes, if it has been nominated for Best Picture, I have doubts to how good it actually is.  However, that is the sheer motivation for shedding light onto the subject, of course.  Do these movies really deserve to be drawn into the spotlight as they have?  What you will find here will not be in depth, or detailed.  That is because there really isn't a whole lot to say about this movie.  If you are on the fence about watching this movie, then this is a good place to start, to help make up your mind.

Dallas Buyers Club.  What do you think of when you hear the name?  I can assure you, unless you directly know what it means, your guesses are likely to be very wrong.  This movie is about AIDS, which was a surprise to me only in the sense that the name doesn't imply it, and neither did any of the clips I was privy to watch before viewing the film as a whole.  It is about the struggle of a straight man diagnosed with HIV in the 80’s.  You may not know this, depending on your general demographic, but AIDS and HIV were both associated with being a homosexual after the disease was discovered.  We know now that it isn't exclusive to homosexual sex, but back then, no one thought anything different.  As most of us would know, there is no cure or perfected treatment of AIDS.  When it first presented, there was a lot of work done to try and defeat it, but as we have seen, many years later, very little progress has been made towards curing it.  Many advances have been made in extending the lives of those affected by it, but that is as far as it goes.

If you would like a more in depth glimpse at the history of AIDS and HIV, visit the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS

In 1985, in the heart of Dallas, an electrician and scammer Ron Woodroof (Matthew MV5BMTYwMTA4MzgyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjEyMjE0MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_McConaughey) is diagnosed with HIV.  In disbelief, since only homosexuals can get it, he denies the doctor’s reality and spends a month destroying his body further in debauchery.  Eventually the symptoms overcame him, and he was forced into the hospital again.  The two doctor’s specializing in his care, Dr. Sevard (Denis O’Hare) and a woman we would come to know as Eve (Jennifer Garner), explain to him what his options are.  He hears about a drug trial for an experimental drug, however he is not picked to be part of the trial.  He hires an orderly to steal the drugs for him, and starts self medicating.  His supply runs dry, and he is forced to seek other methods of treatment.  He is referred to a doctor in Mexico, and heads there after many failed attempts at acquiring more of the trial drug.  The doctor south of the border introduces him to a slew of medications yet approved by the FDA in the United States, and those drugs bring him back from a very close brush with death.

Having experienced this miracle of “not approved” medication, he takes it upon himself to market and sell these drugs in the United States to other poor souls with HIV/AIDS.  He eventually picks up a partner in his business, a flamboyantly gay gentleman named Rayon (Jared Leto).  He also learned that the trial drug that so many people were subject to, was a poison and doing much worse for the people than helping.  He sets up what is known as a “Buyers Club” to distribute the drugs.  Which is essentially a monthly subscription service that gives the people the access to the alternative treatments he has to offer.  It wasn't long before the FDA did all they could to stop him, and make his operation illegal.  The story covers his struggles with trying to help people, and more so, himself.

I am not sure what the storytellers were trying to accomplish with this movie.  The overall running theme I could pick from it was, “Don’t be a dick” and honestly, that’s sage advice for anyone.  It was impossible to see Matthew’s character as the good guy.  With his attitude, actions, and just overall gross factor, his character was far too easy to hate.  Even towards the end, I didn't feel the turn around with his character, that one would normally see in this type of situation.  Knowing what I do about the mindset and stigma of his condition during that time, and that he was in the heart of Texas at the time, I know that what he experienced from his friends and coworkers post diagnosis, was a very accurate depiction.  There were a lot of times, despite that, where I had to ask myself, “Who, in any given situation, would do that?”.

Overall, the acting was convincing.  Matthew McConaughey may be very easy to dislike in his taste of role choices, but when he gets it right, he gets it right.  He isn’t an actor that is afraid of pushing the envelope in a role.  Jennifer Garner is a mediocre actress, in my opinion, but pulls together to give us a decent performance.  Jared Leto played “gross transexual” a little too well.  I am remiss that they would have a movie with such solid, convincing acting, with a story that makes you feel very uncomfortable by the end.

A point I would like to touch on is, the sex scenes were gross.  You have a movie filled with people that look like they are so fried on meth, you nearly want to vomit anytime you see them.  Couple that with scenes of hookers and strippers that make you want to get STD tested just from watching the movie.  I am not a big fan of overusing a graphic sex scene in a movie, but skeezy sex scenes are far worse.  I think the mystery of what a drugged out hooker’s boobs look like during sex should remain a mystery.

A disheveled Matthew McConaughey gets arrested in scenes for 'The Dallas Buyers Club' in New OrleansThe drastic transformations that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto went through for these roles were impressive.  It does take dedication as actors to do such horrible things to your physical appearance.  Without this step, I would have lost the shroud of immersion in the film.  Without the look, they could not have pulled off the characters.

This movie, as with all the others in this series, was nominated for “Best Picture” at the Oscars.  I would say that it could have been easily scratched off that list, and replaced by something of better quality.  Acting alone, does not a best picture make.  Matthew McConaughey was nominated, and won, for “Best Actor” based on his performance in this film.  Where I agree with the nomination, I don’t know that he was the best on the list.  I am drawn more to believe that his eventual win was based solely from his drastic transformation for the role.  Seeing as anyone who is dedicated enough can and will transform themselves for a role, even the worst of actors, I don’t believe that earned him the win.