I never thought I’d see the day when Matthew McConaughey starred in a movie where he didn’t resemble a beach bum, surfer dude, or golden boy of California nature. And when I say ‘golden boy’, there wasn’t a performance where he leaves me drooling to see his bare chest again and again. He doesn’t even have flowing, tossable hair.
But after seeing ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, I’m whistling a different tune when it comes to his acting. When McConaughey said for the last couple of years, he claimed he was the only guy in his corner believing in the actor he knew to be inside himself. I certainly wasn’t a supporter. After his work here, he’s certainly not a beach bum anymore. Combine his award-acclaim worthy performance with Jared Leto’s return to the silver screen after a six-year hiatus, and you’ve actually got Academy Award gold. They have a great reason to celebrate.
MccCnaughey described his character of Ron Woodroof “a hustler”. A stereotypical, redneck hick of a rodeo cowboy in the southwestern parts of the United States, he lives right in the time of the AIDS outbreak in this country. Certainly a scary time. No one knew anything about the disease, it was so new. Believed to be a disease purely of the gay communities, Woodroof goes through the seven stages of grief in a matter of minutes for the audience, and McConaughey hits them all on the head perfectly. McConaughey also fit the role physically, reportedly dropping 40 pounds to play Woodroof.
Jared Leto shines as the transsexual, Rayon, and he (or should i say she?) oozes with charm. So much, that she melts the homophobia right out of Woodroof. Rayon shined with each and every word, and I looked forward to her sassy-self every time. Leto got so into the role that he wore high heels from day one of filming, and even went out grocery shopping as Rayon where he was greeted with stares and double-takes. These are the dedicated, method actor stories I love finding out about.
Jennifer Garner plays the supporting nurse, and she is a firecracker from the time she tells Woody to go fuck himself because she IS a doctor, after all. When she finally joins forces with Woodroof and Rayon in his unconventional Dallas Buyers Club where he helps others affected by HIV/AIDS get treatment outside hospital walls. And it’s in this crusade against the FDA where Woodroof’s real character erupts, from redneck hick to HIV/AIDS crusader.
What struck me most after leaving the theater, outside of McConaughey’s and Leto’s performances, was the cruelty HIV/AIDS patients endured. Not just from a person-to-person interaction, but also from the very medical personnel who were supposed to be “healing” them. These doctors knew AZT was still in trial phase, and for the most part, it didn’t work, yet that’s all they prescribed or they refused treatment to those who might have benefited from trying it out. It became a matter of money over medical oath. And don’t even get me started on how people treated each other when they found out a friend had HIV/AIDS. Raunchy names, let go from jobs, public isolation…and that’s not even the worst of it. I distinctly remember leaving the theater thankful I didn’t grow up in this era of the unknown. People were cruel because they were afraid. Woody Woodroof stood up against that cruelty, because honestly, his coin was suddenly flipped.
Here are my 10 favorite things about Dallas Buyers Club. (SPOILER ALERT: Important moments in the film are discussed below.)
The moment the film starts, one is thrust into Woodroof’s life and you can’t help yourself from rooting for Woodroof, Rayon, and everyone else pitching in, trying to give their fellow brothers and sisters a fight. HIV/AIDS hasn’t disappeared from our current world, unfortunately, but at least now we can say we’re far more educated than back in 1985.
And I can honestly say, when put to the test, Matthew McConaughey can act. Not like a chill, totally awesome surfer. But a real actor who has a real chance of winning an Academy Award come March 2nd.