Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Film with Sense of Defiance and Scabrous Humour

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Film with Sense of Defiance and Scabrous Humour

Article excerpt

Byline: Geoffrey MacNab

Dallas Buyers Club (15)

Rated: MA

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Showing: The Strand

DALLAS Buyers Club is a truly contradictory affair: a rousing crowd-pleaser dealing with the most downbeat subject imaginable -- a man contracting HIV and slowly dying of an Aids-related condition. Summed up like that, it sounds impossibly grim. What makes the film so special is its sense of defiance and its scabrous humour. The main characters here simply don't accept their role as victims, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) least of all.

McConaughey has been consistently underestimated as an actor. Here, he gives an astonishing performance that combines sleaziness and venality with grace and pathos.

The director Jean-Marc Vallee brings a grittiness and morbid humour to the storytelling here that, early on, evokes memories of Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces.

When we first encounter McConaughey's Ron, he is having frenzied, unprotected sex in a darkened stall at a Texas rodeo. The scene is shot in a furtive, voyeuristic way. From the corner of his eye, he notices a sad-faced rodeo clown -- a figure we see again and who seems to have been included as a harbinger of troubles ahead. Moments later, Ron is fleeing angry cowboys he seems to have fleeced. It's 1985. With his rakishly lean frame and moustache, Ron may look like a member of camp disco group Village People but he is rampantly homophobic. "Rock Hudson was a c.........r!" he exclaims early on when he learns of Hudson's homosexuality. He likes women, beer, drugs and pornography.

Ron is an electrician who lives in a trailer park. When he first learns of his HIV diagnosis and is given 30 days to get his affairs in order, he reacts with utter astonishment. "I ain't no faggot," he roars at the doctor, telling him his blood must have been mixed up with some "daisy puller's". Any prospect of a dignified death looks remote. His friends are as homophobic as he is -- and quickly begin to shun him. He doesn't have much money but is desperate to get hold of AZT, the only drug he thinks can help him. …

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