Dallas Buyers Club ★★★★

Four years ago, had you asked me to watch anything with Matthew McConaughey in it, you probably would have heard me utter a guttural sound in disgusted protest. Now, he’s an actor who consistently delivers strong performances in roles that are fantastic choices for his strengths. And Dallas Buyers Club is his finest work to date. But make no mistake, this film leans heavily on his talents.

Supporting him, Garner and Zahn deliver commendable performances – the former being a refreshing new side of an actress I haven’t completely formed an opinion on, and the latter being another in a long line of strong character portrayals that reinforce my belief that Zahn is one of Hollywood’s most under-appreciated actors. But it’s Jared Leto who shines and is able to compel on a level completely proportionate to McConaughey.

Dallas Buyers Club is a redemption story at its core, and encapsulates one man’s journey to understand his place in the world and come to grips with both the obvious consequences and ambiguous unfairness of his life’s situation. But, because it’s a real story, it doesn’t arc in a way that’s entirely satisfying. In fact, the place in the story where we’d expect - and possibly even need - a powerful climax that uplifts, we instead get the film’s lowest point, from which the film never really recovers emotionally. But such is the case in dealing with true stories, where reality can crush hopes absolutely and without discretion. Instead, it’s the main character's arc that develops in the necessary way.

In the end, it makes for a pretty sombre experience, and not one that I’m eager to re-engage with despite the great performances on display. Personally, I don’t think the film itself deserves the amount of praise it receives, but strongly agree that the two lead actors – McConaughey and Leto – are more than deserving of high acclaim.

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