Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)


Ron Woodroof: Let me give y'all a little news flash. There ain't nothin' out there can kill fuckin' Ron Woodroof in 30 days.

'Dallas Buyers Club' is this year's 'The Blind Side'. The reason for this comparison is due to the unexpectingly splendid acting surrounding this film's main themes. 

Just to clarify a little bit what the film's about - The story follows a Texas electrician - Ron Woodroof - and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.(

This is another one of this year's big contenders which is based on true life events. As it's becoming somewhat of an epidemic for Hollywood to focus on real life stories, this one doesn't lose it's target purpose, whose aim is not to shock or amaze its audience, but engage them on a profound level in how far will society go to shield its corruption and insensitivity towards victims that need urgent medical care.

This is a tale about a man who fought against all odds to provide for people diagnosed with HIV+. The astounding tale of this man was brought to life by screenwriters Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. The screenwriters do not gimmick any bits in the story, but give it to us straight up, as harsh as it was, as unfair as it was, without though in the process eliminating the tantalizing drama and sorrow of people who are seeking to bend the system's hypocricy just so they can live to see another day.

Coming to add on that wrenching story is the exceptional acting. However, let me be frank and note that in my screening for this film I was sceptical for the main lead, who was none other than the all-mighty buzzing Matthew McConaughey (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, EdtvMagic Mike, Mud), who seems recently that he has taken a turn for the serious - I call that a 'Sandra-Bullock' move - and has made it into the big leagues of Hollywood thespians. Granted in the past he may have shown glimpses of what he could really do - A Time To Kill, Amistad - but in Dallas Buyers Club he seems to have surpassed every expectation regarding his acting skills. 

He grabbed this role by the horns - and I mean that in literal sense. He actually grabbed it, he held onto it, he claimed the role and fought for it like it was his life depended on it. His extraordinary will to bring Ron Woodroof to life gave him the stamina and the ability to centre himself on what was important to pass onto his vewers; those emotionless gut-wrenching feelings of hopelessness in the eyes of a man in desperation to hang on to dear life. All this, McConaughey brilliantly transmits and is not afraid to truly expose himself on camera full on. He just lets the story move him and guide him through this tantalizing storytelling. Hence, needless to relish in the fact that his Oscar nomination for Best Actor Award is a well deserved one.

Equally coming to that are his other two co-stars, who come complete this tale of narrowing survival chances - Jennifer Garner (Alias, Juno, 13 Going on 30, Daredevil, Catch Me If You Can) and Jared Leto (Requiem For a Dream, American Psycho, Fight Club, Lord of War, Mr. Nobody) , who is also up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Award. Both Garner and Leto give out astounding performances in their support to the main character's journey. 

A note goes out especially to Leto whose emodiment of an HIV+ transvestite heralds him as the backbone of what this story is all about; compassion, humanity, kindness, sensitivity. These undying qualities are transformed in the role of Leto, who ripped this role apart to show us how deeply open we, as a society, should be, how open we should let our hearts be, in our aid to accept and love one another just as we are. Leto completely bedazzles in this role, who seems to have been stitched up just for him. 

Equally so, Garner herself, provides her unique skill to support the main lead with her kind mannerisms as the doctor who will stand beside her patient and extend him the hand of kindness in his battle for survival. 

In terms of direction, Jean-Marc Vallée (Young VictoriaCafé de Flore) is a quiet traveller of cinematography as he ever so gently places us on the spot to let go all of our preconceived notions of what we know is right and what we should accept as right. The method he uses in this film, somewhat resembles the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately acceptance. This journey we undergo through Vallée's empathetic lense as he lets us first unload any feelings of misconception and find again our humanity by the end of the film, manages not only to engage the audience but to also bring out sympathy for this story. In retrospect, Valee reminds us that nothing is black or white; not even this film. The multi-layers he lets us eavsdrop within his characters allows us to be more patient and understanding to a person's journey. It goes as much as to prove that old saying that "you shouldn't judge someone, unless if you've walked a mile in their shoes", only with this film Valee gives us those shoes and he lets us walk the long walk. 

Personally I believe this movie should be awarded for its humanity, for its never-ending battle to break down barriers of how we should treat people that suffer from HIV+ and of how each and everyone of us can aid in this life-long battle. This film aims to teach us, to de-anesthetize us, to make us see behind closed doors and finally to never stop fighting for what is right no matter the odds. 

I definitely recommend this film, albeit heavy and admittedly sad at times, it is a worthy film to have an eye out for, which certainly does deserve all the praise and the buzz it's been getting. 


Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

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