Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

November 19, 2013

CALLERI: 'Dallas Buyers Club' looks at a different facet of the AIDS epidemic

Niagara Gazette — There are so many names being bandied about for an Academy Award nomination for best actor, that a traffic jam is forming. You’ve got Bruce Dern for “Nebraska,” Robert Redford for “All Is Lost,” Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years A Slave,” Joaquin Phoenix for “Her,” Tom Hanks for “Captain Phillips,” Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale Station,” and Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

McConaughey plays Ron Woodruff, a hard-drinking, part-time electrician and occasional rodeo bull-riding Texan, who picks up odd jobs and available women, all the while doing illegal drugs, especially cocaine. Notoriety will find him after he’s diagnosed with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

Woodruff is a classic cock-of-the-walk, almost the same kind of brash, loosey goosey character that McConaughey has been playing for most of his on-screen life. Usually they are successful scamps, unafraid to revel in their handsomeness. McConaughey should pay royalties to Peter Pan.

His rodeo rider is a marginally-employable, foul-mouthed redneck; a crude, fast-talking fellow gifted with a line of patter as long as the Lone Star state is wide. Women fall into bed with him and men admire him. Even on the wrong side of the tracks, there’s always a kingpin.

Rather than have his newest charmer continually sell sexual snake oil with a wink and a smile to every female practically seduced just by the air around him, McConaughey’s character is compelled to put down his every-present bottle of beer and take stock of his mortality. During a visit to a hospital after an accident at work, he’s told he’s contracted H.I.V and has, at best, a month to live.

Because of poor choices made by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee in shaping “Dallas Buyers Club,” I think it’s safe to say that you probably never thought of the AIDS epidemic as fodder for an antic caper adventure. But that’s what we get with this misguided movie.

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