Dallas Buyers Club DVD Review
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto prove themselves every bit worthy of their Oscar wins earlier this year in the heartrending and entertaining Dallas Buyers Club (15).
What’s It About? Set in 1985, Dallas Buyers Club tells the true life story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic rodeo cowboy from Dallas Texas who is diagnosed with HIV and given just thirty days to live. After the medication Ron receives in US hospitals makes him even more ill, he travels to Mexico where he meets with a doctor who gives him medication that isn’t approved in the US, despite the positive effect that it has on HIV sufferers. It soon occurs to Ron that he can make money from this miracle drug, so he smuggles it into America and with the help of an HIV+ transgender woman (Jared Leto) he opens up a Buyers Club, where those suffering with HIV and AIDS can buy a membership in order to receive the medication.
Verdict: Everything about Dallas Buyers Club is strong, but nothing more so than the incredible talent. McConaughey and Leto both give career-defining performances with McConaughey creating something of a charming antihero in the form of Ron Woodroof. Initially, the Southern hick is quite an unlikable character; he drinks, he does drugs and he has dirty casual sex, all on top of his unforgivably homophobic intolerance of the fellow HIV patients that he encounters once he’s been diagnosed. However, Ron’s response to his diagnosis is nothing short of touching and admirable in equal measures as upon hearing his short life expectancy he utters ‘There ain’t nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days’ before he goes out there, researches the disease and then does everything that he can in order to get the treatment he needs whilst also hustling and making an illegal business out of it.
The themes throughout are quite positive despite the film’s difficult subject matters of the trauma of HIV and AIDS alongside the injustice of the American healthcare system. Although the tone of Dallas Buyers Club teeters slightly more towards the upbeat and heartwarming, it isn’t without its fair share of heartache and tragedy. Director Jean-Marc Vallee ensures that whilst watching you don’t forget for a second the gravity of the subject matter and it is by no means easy viewing.
Ron Woodroof’s character development is perhaps the most insightful and endearing aspect of the film, and a testament to Matthew McConaughey’s heartfelt performance. It is satisfying as a viewer to watch how this rodeo, cowboy hustler grows as his illness develops. From the way he copes with being ostracized by his so-called friends and then finds solace and friendship in a person he mocked and insulted when they first met in neighboring hospital beds, to his change of attitude towards gay people and society’s injustices in general. It is clear throughout that Ron Woodroof is becoming a better person but without losing any of his mischievous charm or lust for life.
A character that is initially quite difficult to watch quickly becomes a character that you can’t help but love and root for throughout the film. Despite McConaughey’s incredible performance, the undeniable scene-stealer of Dallas Buyers Club is Jared Leto as transgender woman Rayon.
Rayon is a complex and intriguing character that is simply mesmerizing to watch, and I found I couldn’t take my eyes of Leto no matter what else was going on in the scene. I was pleased to see that Rayon was given depth and layers and although she starts out being the fun and sparkle that eases Ron into understanding the LGBTQ community a little better, she also gets the chance to display her vulnerability and raw emotion as the film goes on – taking full advantage of Leto’s astounding range as she is pushed to the limits but doesn’t even come close to breaking. Instead, Leto delivers a consistently strong and heartbreaking performance, giving Dallas Buyers Club the edge that it needed in order to take it to the next level.
Extras: The extras are relatively underwhelming with a handful of deleted scenes, of which you can understand why they were deleted, and a three-minute long ‘Making Of’ featurette which serves more as a trailer with just one or two lines from the cast.
Final Words: All in all, Dallas Buyers Club is a must-see film that showcases two incredible actors in their prime. A film that remains entertaining whilst dealing with a delicate subject matter is hard to come by, especially one as thought-provoking as this, yet the incredible combination of Vallee, Leto and McConaughey ensures that Dallas Buyers Club is nothing less than flawless in execution as together they strike a perfect balance of entertainment, sensitivity and heartache.
Dallas Buyers Club is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 2 June 2014.