Saturday, March 1, 2014

Movie Review: Dallas Buyers Club

                             2013's Dallas Buyers Club is nominated for several Academy Awards

     Dallas Buyers Club is based on the true story of AIDS patient Ron Woodruff. The tale unfolds back in the dark, deathly 80's, when AIDS was a guaranteed death sentence. When told he had 30 days to live, Woodruff developed an underground system to obtain non-FDA approved treatments for himself and his comrades in arms battling the fatal disease.

      Let me say right out of the gate that I've always been a big Matthew McConaughey fan. Admittedly, he usually plays characters that don't seem very different from -- well -- Matthew McConaughey -- but really. Charm, good looks, that easy, randy Texas smile -- what's not to like?

   Directed by Quebecois Jean-Marc Vallee, the film delivers a well-acted, powerful story. Its message of perseverance and tolerance deserves to be seen. And Jared Leto's portrayal of transvestite Rayon was a thrilling surprise (I'm pulling for him for best supporting actor). 

  And yet...and yet...there's a huge roadblock preventing me from giving Dallas Buyers Club two gigantic thumbs up. 

                                                       Looking good, Matt (not)!

  Yep. What bugged the heck out of me all through this film is the EXTREME weight loss Matthew underwent for the role.

                                 The "real" Matthew McConaughey, in better days

                                     Jared Leto performed the same extreme weight loss circus act

       Now, to be fair, these guys aren't the first ones to do this. But people -- it's gotten out of hand in Hollywood. Trust me: they can insist that they attained their death-like cachexia through eating only kale shakes and green tea, but that's a big lie.  You want to know their diet plan? Here it is: 6 months of bulimia, amphetamines, and thousands of cigarettes. That's it. Go ahead and try it, if you dare. But if even Matthew McConaughey comes out looking like a dried out old geezer, what are the chances for the rest of us? Right. Don't do it.

     Mr. McConaughey famously quoted his David Wooderson character from 1993's Dazed and Confused when he exclaimed "Alright, alright, alright!" upon winning the Golden Globe for this role.

     It took these guys 6 months to lose the weight. Interestingly, Jennifer Garner (who played the 'tacked-on' role of a doctor with a heart of gold -- and the part was, indeed, added -- and it feels it) said later that the shoot only took 27 days. Yeah, I bet! When your two leads are literally starving to death and can't wait to begin the binge process of gaining back the weight (just as unhealthy, by the way), I'm sure the days were long on the set.

 You know that Matt and Jared cried a super loud, tandem "Alright, alright, ALRIGHT!" when the final shot was completed. And off to the races they went. First stop, In 'n' Out burger, no doubt.

  Sigh. I don't know. I just have the sinking feeling that real AIDS patients, who attained the same ghostly, ghastly frames against their will, without being paid millions of dollars like Matt and Jared were, might be slightly offended somehow by these freak show weight loss stunts. After all, to them it's not a game. It's not a joke.

  I wish they would have just told the story, simple as it was, and trusted in the basic humanity of it. But then, I guess that would have been a completely different movie.