It's a moving drama, and probably the most sincere film of 2013
After making a promising early start with A Time to Kill and Amistad, Matthew McConaughey spent the 2000s shirtless doing horrible romcoms. Fortunately, either his guilt got the better of him or he found a better agent. Right now he’s pretty much on a golden streak with consistently great performances in The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Bernie, True Detective and now Dallas Buyers Club.
That said, this film is more of a McConaughey acting showcase than a truly unique film. It’s got all the trappings of a biographical drama about drugs and AIDS, but it just works on every level thanks to Jean-Marc Vallee’s sensitive direction and some seriously great performances from McConaughey and Jared Leto. McConaughey doesn’t just star as Ron Woodroof, the electrician who turned into an activist in the 1980s, but he transforms physically into the latter. He loses a ton of weight, walks and talks like Woodroof and there’s not a trace of his own self in this role. So even when the conventional plot points drop in to make the message crystal clear to the average Joe, the film never loses its quality.
Director Valee and his writer Craig Borten take the hard route and never sugarcoat Woodroof’s character. He is proper white trash - adulterous, profane, homophobic, chain smoking, drug abusing scumbag who sees the light of the day only when he is diagnosed HIV positive and is told that he has a month to live. After going through denial, anger and haplessness, Woodroof discovers a loophole in the drug administration rules and fights to provide medicine to people who wouldn’t normally afford them. Naturally, this ticks off the FDA and the pharma companies who decide to drag him to court. It’s a fascinating story and in so many ways relatable to the healthcare situation in India.
The film skillfully avoids the cheesy or preachy drama route and does a great job of establishing some dignity into a formerly despicable character. Leto plays Woodroof’s business partner, a fellow AIDS patient and a psychologically disturbed transgender male. His character is the backbone of the film. It’s a moving drama, and probably the most sincere film of 2013 and it’s good of PVR to release the film in India.