“Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club.”
You can almost taste those raspy lip whistles.
The first time I watched Dallas Buyer’s Club, I was home alone, with little knowledge of what the film was about. I knew there was some sort of club…in Dallas…it definitely starred Matthew McConaughey…
For some reason I decided not to research any further into it than that, avoiding the blurb on the DVD cover and any wandering reviews that might catch me out. So I watched this thing and gave it 4 stars, without really thinking about what I’d just witnessed. It was a solid biopic but I guess I didn’t really connect with any of it, too busy worrying about trivial things like “what am I going to eat tonight?” or “when will they get home?” In simple terms, I just wasn’t in the mood. Watching Dallas Buyers Club again 5 months later was a bit of a revelation really. While it’s still a solid 4 star biopic, I felt so much more.
Ron Woodrof (McConaughey) is an electrician from Dallas. He is, arguably, a sex addict, with homophobic snobbery and pitiful knowledge of the risks of unprotected intimacy. When he is told he is HIV positive after a freak electrical accident ending him up in hospital, the doctors predict he has thirty days left. “Let me give y’all a little news flash. There ain’t nothin’ out there that can kill fuckin’ Ron Woodrof in thirty days.” Ron is determined to live and, of course, make money. He goes on a quest, of sorts, to find the best drugs he can, with the help of out-spoken Rayon (Jared Leto) to sell these on to others in the suffering community. And so, the Dallas Buyers Club was brought to life.
At some points I had to force myself to keep watching, to take in the hell of it all. The crying scenes were tough, really tough. Those glimpses of Ron giving up and being consumed by his newly distorted world – it takes you out of the money and the business and the success of the external layer, protecting him from the world. But peel back and reveal the inside and you get those blips, moments of overwhelming realisation of all the things AIDS has mugged him of – those are the truly heart-wrenching moments. Those are the moments where you realise the McConaissance isn’t just some Internet craze. It’s real motherfuckers.
And how could I forget Jared Leto. Rayon is fabulous. I just wish that all that sass could have cured her of that brutal disease. Some things in this world just aren’t fair. Leto said he didn’t know who the character was until he did the costume fitting. You can see where he is coming from. Each outfit completely encapsulates what Rayon is about; all that flamboyance and confidence that just makes her character. But they do undoubtedly draw attention to Leto’s alarmingly thin limbs. The transformation of both actors cannot possibly go unnoticed. McConaughey reportedly lost three stone, and without jumping to the conclusion of gimmicky celeb slim down, you only have to watch the film to see how authentic the change for both actors made the production.
But while it isn’t a complete bundle of joy, for obvious reasons, it does have it’s moments. Ron’s sweet dinner with Dr Saks (Jennifer Garner) springs to mind. He’s almost like a new person, one that hasn’t been shown on screen up until that point. He is sweet and he is kind and its because he has a friend. Being shunned by his own and left to battle on alone, its clear all he really wanted was for someone to reach out and touch him, be with him, before he goes insane with solitude.
If you can find the time to watch this film twice, do so. It seemed to resonate more clearly in my head second time round. Just don’t watch it on your birthday or Christmas or something – I predict a gloomy change in mood.