Art & Joy of Movies Blog

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

TMG Scale 6.5 MPAA Rating: R
Starring  Matthew McConaughey, Jenifer Garner

I know many folks will just freak out at TMG’s relatively low rating for this movie. After all, TMG is a huge Matthew McConaughey fan.  What he had to do to prepare for this role makes me admire him all the more. The story line is great. McConaughey’s personal performance is off the charts awesome. There are lots of good messages in this film. So what is the problem?  It is a movie. This is rare occasion I would say “a book would be better.”

McConaughey plays electrician and part time bull rider Ron Woodroof who comes down with AIDS. Ron is not gay, but likely contracted the disease through unprotected sex or drug use. The revelation blows his mind and his friends away. Lacking effective treatment in 1985, he forms a “Buyers Club” to import drugs from Mexico and around the world that show promise to at least mitigate AIDs symptoms. He is a modestly successful hustler at this effort. Access to experimental drugs, not approved b the FDA in the United States perhaps helped some, but at what costs of false promises? It also threatened the tradition medical research community and government law enforcement. I admired the David versus Goliath theme. I treasure any small guy that stands up to big government. But a 25 day film shoot and low budget came at a price.

TMG always says the measure of a film has to be whether after the credits go up, can you honestly say you enjoyed it. “Enjoy” takes many forms. A film might make your laugh; another make you jump for joy; inspire you; thrill you; educate you; frighten you; or make you cry and deepen your humanity. The latter is where this film came close….it just missed. I walked out of this film feeling bad and no better for having seen it.  Joy Lynn and I argued about this for hours. I just need to feel something more when I walk out of a film. No way would I sit through Dallas Buyers Club a second time.

How could this film have been better? A little comic relief for one. A little less stereotyping perhaps. (Not all guys who drink beer and enjoy rodeo are homophobic.) A little more balance perhaps. I did not buy into a successful, research doctor as hot as Jenifer Garner falling for a red neck, bigot with AIDS.

So my heartfelt apologies to Matthew for a performance of a lifetime for which he truly deserves and Oscar. ( I also feel his performance in Mud (2012)  deserved and Oscar along with the film).  A nod as well to Jared Leto for his performance as “Rayon”  a cross dressing gay, transgender wannabe. Leto was more than convincing and reached my heart and my compassion.  I still suggest this story would be better as a book instead.