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Dallas Buyers Club (movie review)

More than any movie I’ve seen in the last few years, Dallas Buyers Club is a strong character study and performance piece for the actors, but as a movie over all, it has some problems.

In a word, the performances by Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof and Jared Leto as Rayon are unforgettable. (2013 was a really good year for performances: Captain Phillips, August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine…) These two guys are subtle and powerful all at once… and they provide such an excellent contrast while still keeping a similar sense of style that let’s their performances compliment each other… it works like gangbusters, as they say. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are the best part of the movie.

(Folks have pointed out that in his acceptance speech, Jared Leto managed to plug his band, mention the Ukraine, but not say anything about the struggles of transgender people, which struck folks as odd, because… you know… won an Oscar for playing a transgender man.)

And there’s every other character in the movie, and the story as a whole. Essentially, everyone else is kinda useless. You can edit them out of the movie and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Jennifer Gardner delivers a fine performance, but her character is just taking up space – the same goes for that lady who works with them at the Buyers Club or that guy that hangs around with Rayon and never really says anything… Dr. Exposition down there in Mexico… they’re all kinda useless characters. This is probably an inherent difficulty in adapting real life into a fictional format – if you’re not wiling to make story compromises (like if Gardner’s character revolutionizing treatment at her hospital by embracing Woodroof’s methods) to make the movie a more compelling story, you end with Dallas Buyers Club. It’s a good movie, but it’s not great – it has great performances, but the story isn’t done in an especially compelling way. It’s sort of a bio pic about Ron Woodroof, it’s sort of a movie about a fight to get people the drugs they need, but also a movie about corruption at the FDA… and it seems like those last two things are the same, but they’re not. It’s this personal story, but the movie comes to a head when they lose this court case I had no idea was coming. The conflict with the FDA guy is present in the movie, but it doesn’t get the focus it needs to make for compelling drama, and so, you end up with a mess. An entertaining mess fueled by two wonderfull performances, but still, a mess.

I have to recommend Dallas Buyers Club to everyone. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s an important story and is full of great attributes – I give it an 8.5 out of 10.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com and BomberBanter.com

Posted on March 4, 2014, in movie reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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