Dallas Buyers Club Screen 19 articles

Dallas Buyers Club

2013

Dallas Buyers Club Poster
  • On this one, I'm mostly in agreement with R. Kurt Osenlund, whose politically charged piece intones with a sense of fed-up finality: Why must we continue to not only accept but elevate this sort of myopic message-mongering? As a heterosexual, I can't speak with the same authority, but I nonetheless found the film's portrayal of LGBTQ culture to be staggeringly one-note and its bid for queer awareness to be almost pathetically flawed.

  • What kind of culture looks back at the treatment-deficient years of the AIDS crisis and thinks that there’s a heartwarming redemption story in it, aBlind Side meets Archie Bunker dramedy just waiting to happen? The kind of culture that avidly rewards such thinking.

  • Despite its good intentions and moxie-filled performances, Dallas Buyers Club is ultimately marred by its impulse to compromise its freewheeling humanity in favor of crowd-pleasing tropes and, therefore, a more apt title may have been How to Survive a Plague of Conventions.

  • According to the press notes, Vallée asked his cast and crew to watch How to Survive a Plague, David France’s stirring chronicle of ACT UP released last year. But Dallas Buyers Club shows how little Hollywood dramas about AIDS have advanced since Jonathan Demme’s (homo)sexless, sanitized Philadelphia (1993).

  • Its star's admirable performance doesn't make Dallas Buyers Club anything profound. After focusing on Ron's inner conflict early on, the film becomes deathly preachy and an emotional hustle. As it examines (not very complexly) the social and political ramifications of his controversial actions, it descends into a formulaic redemption tale primed for Oscar voters who hear foul language and see a little sex and think "edgy."

  • As Ron faces so much violent ostracizing, the film's thematic properties change. He peels himself off the floor and begins an ascent to a kind of moral respectability. At that point, a movie that might have been the uncomfortable, peculiarly cinematic tale of a lowlife bottoming out turns into something else: a movie-of-the-week caper.

  • Despite its qualities as a character portrait and actor’s showcase in its early phases,Dallas Buyers Club proves a much less compelling experience than it initially promises to be... [The opening scene is] a great start, one with a purposeful technique and artfulness Valée can’t sustain in part because both the uneasy relationship of the messiness of life and the programmatic script forestall it. Valée’s directing gives a veneer of edginess to a film that’s actually deeply conventional.

  • Dallas Buyers Club proves at least intermittently that Vallée is capable of hinting at the subtle dualities within Woodroof’s complex character and his life-changing journey, but more often than not it impulsively switches gear into prestige-picture mode, goading the audience into a highly codified and instructed path of emotions.

  • While Woodroof’s evolution from a homophobic hick to an unlikely AIDS activist could have been overwrought, McConaughey avoids easy sentimentality in his performance. Instead, he captures both a hardened sense of desperation, while emitting a charming and cocky posturing that masks a fragility. Yet for everything McConaughey brings to Dallas Buyers Club, the movie does begin to wane in the final act, as the focus shifts to its secondary characters.

  • Mr. Vallée, whose movies include “The Young Victoria,” puts a lightly comic spin on Ron’s underground exploits – at one point he disguises himself as the world’s sleaziest priest – that goes a long way to ensuring that the heartache in “Dallas Buyers Club” never interrupts the nice, breezy flow. That makes this fundamentally desperate story go down more easily, though there’s something disconcerting about how this ghastly chapter in American history, with its multitudes of dead and government inaction, has been so neatly packaged.

  • Applying a bland but firm hand, director Jean-Marc Vallée sidesteps a variety of pitfalls while maintaining impressive control over the performances, which means that potentially unfortunate touches—like the spectacle of Jared Leto in drag—are presented with surprisingly low-key humanism. Dallas Buyers Club may be conventional, but at least it's never sanctimonious, balancing out its familiar recovery angle with a healthy measure of sardonic wit.

  • Working from a script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack that sometimes feels button-pushy, Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallée expands the drama in a warm, Demme-like direction, lacing Woodroof’s loose-limbed entrepreneurship with a strain of communal American grit. Jennifer Garner’s by-the-book M.D. and Jared Leto’s flamboyant business partner might have felt like mere devices had their scenes with McConaughey not pushed the plot toward feisty complications.

  • "Dallas Buyers Club" largely goes out of its way to eschew button-pushing and tear-jerking. Shot mostly in a direct, near-documentary style, but edited with a keen feel for the subjectivity of its main characters, "Dallas Buyers Club" takes a more elliptical, near-poetic approach to the lives it portrays than the viewer might expect from this kind of movie.

  • The cinematic equivalent of tough love, Dallas Buyers Club may be more feel-bad than it would have been in the hands of the more cliché-inclined. It’s even possible you may find yourself craving a little more emotionality, for this is a story that merits tears—but in the end because they come unforced, it makes for an altogether rawer, more sophisticated and satisfying experience.

  • Woodruff's straightness actually pushes the movie the movie into more overtly queer—or at least fluid—territory than if the character were gay, since the central romance (of sorts) in the film is the relationship between Woodruff and Rayon. They become a de facto couple (see: the grocery store scene), despite differing sexual orientations and preconceptions of gender. (It's significant that Woodruff always refers to—and relates to—Rayon as a man.)

  • What's remarkable about Dallas Buyers Clubis its lack of sentimentality. The movie, like its star, is all angles and elbows, earning its emotion through sheer pragmatism... Vallée, whose previous credits include the melodrama Café de Flore and the historical romance The Young Victoria, keeps a tight hold on the movie's tone.

  • There’s a peculiar energy, a life force, to Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Dallas Buyers Club” that elevates the film well above its familiar fable about a reprobate redeemed and a band of outsiders struggling against the entrenched establishment. Some of that is the blown-out widescreen images of cinematographer Yves Bélanger... And a whole lot of it is Matthew McConaughey, the Renaissance man of independent film, giving another electrical performance as a man on the outer margins of society.

  • Vallee directs with Ron’s brand of chutzpah, immersing himself in American rebelliousness much like his previous three features were branded with Quebecois (C.R.A.Z.Y.), British (The Young Victoria) and French (Café de Flore) flavor. He picks up on Altman’s game of letting some extraordinary, sometimes underrated actors loose, such as Jared Leto as Ron’s charming cross-dressing yet self-destructive pal in the underground AIDS medicine network...

  • Dallas Buyers Club presents this medical conflict sometimes in broad gestures, for example Woodroof's confrontation with the FDA is Capraesque... But what makes Dallas Buyers Club so unique is how Vallée brings all of these elements together to create an emotional experience that is also a site of resistance, empathy and utopian possibilities.

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