Dallas Buyers Club

November 18, 2013 at 10:26 am | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

I confess that I am a sucker for the starving actors club.  Any time an actor gets all emaciated for a role, count me in: Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia” or Michael Fassbender in “Hunger” or the daddy of self-starvation, Christian Bale in “The Fighter,” “Rescue Dawn” and ( with the grand prize at 63 lbs lost!) in “The Machinist.”  I have to say, I haven’t been let down.  Perhaps the commitment to takes to starve yourself for a role really gets you invested in the character. This time, it’s Matthew McConaughey’s and Jared Leto’s turns.  Both men play characters with full blown AIDS and their appearances are unsettling.  McConaughey lost 40 lbs for the role and Leto lost more than 30 lbs, weighing in at just 114 lbs during the shooting.  Both men also gave incredible performances.  McConaughey may well have given the best performance of his career to date, capturing Ron Woodroof’s complexity: the bigotry, bravado, fear, desperation and courage were often all present in the same scene.  Leto, who is probably known to most audiences for his role in “Fight Club” and the short lived tv series, “My So Called Life,” has a history of interesting roles (“Black & White,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “Chapter 27,” in which he plays an obese Mark Chapman) and has always has a raw vulnerability in his acting that is abundant here in his role as Rayon; even when he is laughing, he looks haunted.  Unfortunately, they are not served as well by Jennifer Garner, who does not have the same drive in her acting that these two men do.  I have never seen her dig as deep as they have both done in a half dozen roles.  Small quibbles aside, this was a powerful and sometimes genuinely funny film.  I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a nomination for McConaughey at the Oscars and perhaps one for Leto as well.

 

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