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Sunday, November 17, 2013

GeekRex Quick Take: Dallas Buyers Club

The buzz: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are garnering accolades for their performances as men who have contracted HIV in the mid-80s. Expect to see Leto up for best supporting actor and McConaughey up for best lead actor during award season. 

What's great about this movie: The performances from both McConaughey and Leto would be the primary motive to see this film. Leto is especially standout as a pre-operative transgendered HIV patient, as the actor undergoes a shocking physical transformation into a sickly, skeletal waif. The movie also takes an interesting look at the way pharmaceutical companies lobby both the FDA and hospitals to push treatments and products. In particular the film scrutinizes the promotion of high doses of AZT as an early treatment of HIV, despite other treatments that were backed by research but lacked the pharma dollars for promotion in the U.S. 

What's not-so-great about this movie: The script uses occasional and welcome humor within a generally morose topic, but moments both somber and comedic trend towards more trite and hackneyed portrayals of docudramas. True-to-life stories are often filled with tropes, and unfortunately Dallas Buyer's Club doesn't take the care to avoid them. Additionally, Jennifer Garner is wasted in a role that feels completely removable. It feels like her character is included only to fill the role of several missing gaps, such as a leading female character, an empathetic member of the medical community, and so on. By attempting to fill so many holes, however, the character is diluted. 

Final verdict: If you feel a need to have seen all of the award season movies, this one should be on your list, as it's likely to be up for several categories. The film itself is a bit uneven at times, though, and performances aside, it wouldn't hurt to leave this for streaming/DVD rental. 
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