Bill I’s Review – 4.25 out of 5
Matthew McConaughey shows once again what a tremendous actor he is, and with his role as HIV afflicted Texan good ole boy, Ron Woodroof, he deploys an unbelievable physical presence to great effect. His character is gaunt in the extreme, even before he’s diagnosed, and almost unrecognizable, certainly the polar opposite from his Magic Mike character. Based on a true story, set starting in 1985, he’s shocked by the diagnosis, in denial, because in his mind it’s a disease limited to c**suckers like Rock Hudson. He’s not an admirable person, and given 30 days to live, he’s desperate for any cure. AZT is just starting clinical trials and while he loves gambling on cards he doesn’t like the odds of getting the real drug vs a placebo in the double blind trial so he goes off on his own to get experimental, unapproved drugs from around the world. The film is a great character study as Ron starts to find some good as well as profit in helping others find a cure, and it’s almost documentary like in showing the medical establishment struggling to find a cure while hordes are dying. It is also shocking to see, and to be reminded of, the reaction of most people when confronted with friends and co-workers who have the HIV death sentence proclaimed. I flashbacked to Magic Johnson and his earth shaking press conference announcing his diagnosis, then to the reaction of some of his NBA colleagues (Karl Malone, for one) when Magic decides to try a comeback, while they fear bumping into him, getting blood, sweat or other bodily fluids onto their masculinity. With Jennifer Gardner playing a thankless role as doctor, the real second star is his hospital roommate, Rayon, a cross dressing, drug using, HIV infected presence, played by Jared Leto (I had no idea until checking the credits just now). Leto also molded his body into his character so that you are not watching a movie with a script but genuine people who are living, and dying, their real lives. It’s not a fun movie to watch, but never lost my attention or bogged down, humorous at times, carried by the wonderful McConaughey and Leto. Definite Oscar nominees, both.
Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5
I need to start reviewing movies before Bill as he leaves me nothing to say.
This is another movie that shows how quickly the world has changed, from the effectiveness of treating this disease to the way gay people were treated in this country. The film hilights the transformation of Woodruff from a self-centered, gay-hating person to a crusader fighting for those who had no hope.
The physical transformations and performances by both McConaughey and Leto are amazing. It’s also amazing to think of how McConaughey’s career has evolved from his early days to his recent choices of interesting movies/performances, including Tropic Thunder, Bernie, Killer Joe, and Mud. Jared Leto was a revelation in this role. It will be interesting to see how he splits his time between acting, which he has dabbled in, and as lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars.
While Dallas Buyers Club is tough to watch, it is definitely worth seeing.