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Dallas Buyers Club
Genre Drama

Matthew McConaughey is proving again and again that he's a serious actor. Once regarded as a "pretty boy" lead in romantic comedies, the actor has won Best Actor at the 2014 Academy Awards on the strength of a brilliant and determined lead performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

Dallas Buyers Club is a biopic drama based on the life of Ron Woodroof, a hedonistic rodeo cowboy and electrician, whose hard-living eventually catches up with him when he tests positive for HIV. In 1985, the virus and onset of AIDS was mistakenly believed to be a disease that only homosexuals and drug addicts contracted.

It's a classic little man versus big organisation story, pitting those affected with the life-threatening condition against the FDA and government authorities, who want to stop their spokesman and saviour from using and distributing non-approved, life-saving medication.

As possibly one of the first heterosexual men to discover he was infected, coming to terms with his life sentence didn't stop Woodroof from giving it horns anyway. Dallas Buyers Club journeys with the lone cowboy, whose crusade against the drug authorities and societal stigma is committed to film in this powerful, inspiring and deeply moving biopic.

Matthew McConaughey means business. The actor lost about 20 kilograms for the role of Woodroof to the point he's almost unrecognisable. His groundbreaking performance is just as astonishing, transforming into a character whose stubborn determination drives him to bend the rules and defy the expectations of doctors and law enforcement officers.

He's not on his own, supported by an equally powerful performance from 30 Seconds to Mars frontman, Jared Leto. The rock star, regarded as a part-time actor, makes a huge statement to say otherwise, playing a transvestite man named Rayon. He too lost an unhealthy amount of weight to trim down to play the skinny business partner to Ron.

Jennifer Garner's solid performance as one of Ron's confidants and treating doctors is overshadowed by the ironically heavyweight Oscar-winning performances from McConaughey and Leto. She delivers a reliable performance as Eve, the kind we've come to expect from Garner.

The film has been directed with artistic flair and deep symbolism by Young Victoria director, Jean-Marc Vallee. He creates an intimate space for Woodroof to exist, simulating some symptoms  of the along the way with the use of focus and sound. The editing leaves us wanting more, keeping the nearly 2 hour movie rumbling on at a good clip, although there are times you wish they had lingered longer.

Dallas Buyers Club sustains itself on its powerful, determined true story and transformative performances from McConnaughey and Leto. While it will remembered mostly for Matthew McConaughey's dramatic metamorphosis and masterfully handled role, it's a strong, unflinching, empathetic and important drama about AIDS that you should make a point of watching.

The bottom line: Inspiring

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