TIFF 2013: Dallas Buyers Club Review


Dallas Buyers Club

Special Presentation

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

A definite high point in the still rising career Matthew McConaughey, and a very good, but lesser film in the career of Vallee as a director, Dallas Buyers Club runs a bit overlong, but it delivers a firm emotional punch at the hands of an unrepentant and initially reprehensible protagonist.


Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, ladies man, homophobe, and all around degenerate  Ron Woodruff (McConaughey) initially continues snorting coke, having unprotected sex, and drinking his face off. Since he isn’t gay, he doesn’t believe he could possibly be dying of the still misunderstood disease. After abusing AZT illegally (then the only approved drug to fight the virus despite horrible side effects) and with his health worsening, Woodruff partners up with his old transexual roommate from the hospital (Jared Leto) to import safer, but FDA unapproved drugs from Mexico and exploiting numerous loopholes in the system for health and profit.

The gaunt and frail looking McConaughey gives it everything he has physically and emotionally. Woodruff never fully breaks out of his redneck charms and ways, which makes the questioning of his true altruism all the more intriguing. Leto also delivers solid work, looking and acting very much like a junkie and making a passable looking woman. Less convincing is Jennifer Garner as Woodruff’s sympathetic but sceptical primary care physician, but her character gets more layers as the story moves on. As for Vallee, stylistically it’s very much his film, but much like Young Victoria it comes across as more of a gun for hire gig than a true passion project. It’s still a strong film, regardless. (Andrew Parker)

For a full length review from the film’s proper theatrical release, please click here.

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