Dallas Buyers Club
There’s something terribly banal about Dallas Buyers Club, Jean-Marc Vallée’s old-fashioned redemption piece about a crooked Texan bigot finding open-mindedness and compassion only when faced with his own mortality. However, thanks to a lack of heartstrings being insincerely tugged and magnetic performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, this familiarity never quite breeds contempt.
McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a homophobic Dallas electrician diagnosed with HIV in 1985 who spent his last years sourcing and distributing AIDS treatments that were not approved by the US Government. Alarmingly frail and seeming much shorter than his 6ft, McConaughey's changed physicality brings tragic irony to Woodroof’s macho posturing of the first hour and sympathy for his struggles in the last. Leto, similarly transformed, offers sass and sadness in the role of Rayon, Ron’s drug-addled transgender business partner. The quality of these turns provides the only surprise, though, as every expected narrative beat is hit; one scene in a supermarket is particularly inelegant in demonstrating the protagonist’s evolving world view. Hallmark stuff, elevated by on-screen class. [Chris Fyvie]