In his breakthrough debut, some 20 years ago, Matthew McConaughey starred opposite mega stars at the time Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson -all of which were coming out of box-office hits such as “Seven”, “Speed” and “Pulp Ficiton” respectively- in “A Time to Kill” as a young lawyer who defends a black man accused for murdering two men that raped her 10-year-old daughter in the American south. His performance became immediately acclaimed by critics and he was hailed as one of the most promising young actors, receiving even comparisons to Paul Newman.
Since then he mainly focused starring in light-hearted romantic comedies, taking advantage of his good looks, revealing his comedic acting side, highlighting his Texan origin and loosing his shirt as often as possible to illuminate his well-shaped six-pack! And although all these films lack an artistic aspect, McConaughey’s performances were always good, obliging cinephiles to take a peek at these movies as a guilty pleasure!
Untill another lawyer portrayal, in the 2011 “Lincoln Lawyer”, put him back on the big game with at least two breakthrough performances per year! Start counting:
- A defense attorney with a conscience crisis (Lincoln Lawyer, 2011)
- A modern cowboy hitman with hilarious outbursts (Killer Joe, 2011)
- A star reporter investigating a racial murder (The Paperboy, 2012)
- A runaway convict in love (Mud,2012)
- A greedy Wall Street Executive (The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013)
- An AIDS homophobic patient (Dallas Buyers Club, 2013)
And that last performance may be the one that will give him the much coveted Academy Award for Best Actor. Portraying the real life AIDS patient, Ron Woodroof, Matthew McConaughey crumpled his sexy appearance by loosing more than 20 kilos, initiating a hollywood buzz that only acted as a better promotion in the oscar race for a film that is good nevertheless.
Dallas Buyers Club follows the real story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician from Dallas, Texas, who in the mid 80’s is diagnosed with AIDS and is given about 30 days to live. Instead of giving up and accepting his fate -pretty much deriving from his drug abuse and casual unprotected sex- he embarks in a mission to find the best treatment for the disease, working around the system, smuggling drugs of doubtful efficacy, at a time when AZT was the only official drug against AIDS that was administered to patients in the U.S. with devastating resutls in many cases. Working under the radar of the FDA, he finds Dallas Buyers Club, a place where HIV+ patients can get in hand with these unauthorised drugs, which prove to be more effective, improving the life quality of the seropositives patients.
Despite the risks underlying in films that have been exposed in such a buzz for its leading character -McConayghey lost a lot of weight, portrayal of a real life person- Dallas Buyers Club succeeds in keeping a balance between performances, real events and emotions. Yes, Matthew McConaughey’s performance is the best element of the film, but it is not the only one. Jared Leto is quite good -though not oscar material-, Jennifer Garner gives a bald performance and the script is very tight sharing the filmic time between the “heroic” and seemingly altruistic deeds of the protagonist and his personal demons that lead him to that situation. Ron is neither presented as a martyr against the disease, nor is he condemned for his mistakes in the past.
Of course, as any film depicting real life events, there are a lot of misinterpretations in favour of the poetic license. Woodroof was never such a tough guy and as openly anti-gay as he is portrayed in the film by Matthew McConaughey. The characters of Rayon (Jared Leto) & Dr Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) are both fictional figures, consisted of composites the writers created for the film based on a vast number of interviews they did with transgendered activists and doctors that faced similar cases during that period. The writing duo also decided to leave out of the story the sister and daughter of Ron Woodroof, in order to drive the film into the direction of a clear character study of Ron Woodroof and his struggle to stay alive, that had an enormous effect in the fight against HIV virus.
Nevertheless, Dallas Buyers Club is a well made film that will leave you with a bittersweet feeling once the lights of the theater go back up: entertaining and academic in a perfect mixture.