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“Dallas Buyers Club” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 15, 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-15 at 5.57.13 PMBefore anyone sees this movie, I highly recommend you watch a French-Canadian made movie called “Café de Flore”. It’s an epic drama, unlike anything you’ve seen within the last decade, directed by French Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée. Vallée makes his American debut at last with “Dallas Buyers Club”, a movie shot exceptionally beautiful, fluently edited, and a cast led by an actor who’s a surefire lock for the Best Actor award come Oscar time.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a reckless cowboy, a son of Texas, and an imperfect man, has his life altered forever. Ron fights for survival during an uncertain time in the mid 1980s of America. Ron is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and being the kind of man he is, he automatically doesn’t believe it, but after time of denial has passed, the ever impending doom closing in on him haunts his core. Ron ventures to Mexico for medical answers to his problems, gaining unapproved drugs, till the idea of a buyers club after reading an article in the NY Times, is the solution to all his financial and medical woes. Ron teams with a transexual AIDS patient from the local hospital named Rayon (Jared Leto), who becomes his business partner, giving all local Gay, Lesbian, Bi, or even straight customers who’re afflicted with the disease a chance to fight for their lives and give a metaphorical middle finger to the system, when the solution of a drug called AZT goes more harm than good for these patients.

Matthew McConaughey’s career has certainly taken a dramatic turn in the past few years. here is an actor who you normally see playing the leading man in pointless romantic comedies, or fluff spring/summer humor. He was never that guy where a well respected filmmaker thought they should take a chance on him telling a provocative story. If I had to pinpoint it, it was the moment when he co-starred in “Bernie” that it became clear that this guy has more to offer. Lately, he’s done some incredible films, with an array of interesting, sometimes complex characters; “Magic Mike”“Mud” and “Killer Joe” come to mind. Now, it’s quite clear, after “Dallas Buyers Club” McConaughey is seeking the gold at the end of awards season, and after see this movie, he’s a surefire lock.

Screen shot 2013-11-15 at 6.13.25 PMBut, McConaughey isn’t the only one who’s making an incredible stance in the independent scene, Jared Leto, who’s been absent here and there, but has always delivered an collection of complicated fellows, makes a career defining, bold move, playing the character of Rayon. It’s not the first time Leto has taken upon himself to drastically change his physical nature for the good of the character; loosing 25 lbs to play the drug addict Harry in “Requiem for a Dream”, or gaining over 60 lbs to play Lennon-killer Mark David Chapman in “Chapter 27”. Leto has proven to be an exceptional auteur, and he’s no different here, his complete transformation can be funny, endearing, and altogether hearbreaking.

If there’s one thing that stands out in a Jean-Marc Vallée, it’s his unique visual stylings behind the camera and his clever edits in the edit bay. He continues to work with his respective production team, cinematographer Yves Bélanger and Vallée’s editing partner Martin Pensa. What’s significant about this bold team is that the American studio system never seem to get in the way, at least how it appears, creatively & visually. “Dallas Buyers Club” still evokes the “Café de Flore” method; telling a rich story, sometimes complex, and yet utterly simplistic in the winsome nature it is presented in.

GRADE: A

Special Thanks to Christine Labonté for attending the screening, and always educating me in the ways of French-Canadian cinema. Thank you Frenchy!

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