Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
2013 was a very good year for film. Looking at my list of films seen from that year, we have Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Past, The Lunchbox, Frances Ha, Frozen, 12 Years a Slave, Her, Nebraska, Upstream Colour, Enough Said, Under the Skin, and bunch o' others. I would add Dallas Buyers Club to that list of very good films from that year that should be seen.
The acting is strong from all the cast; clearly McConaughey and Leto are the most eye-catching, with their physical transformations, but the true strength of their performances comes from the characters underneath the surface. McConaughey's Ron Woodroof does what he does for both mercenary and altruistic reasons, which brings him into contact with people he would never have chosen to associate. You believe this is a sick man, as McConaughey's face also verges on the skeletal. Leto also looks worse for wear, as Rayon struggles to get clean. This is unusual as sick people in films are usually denoted by coughs or sniffles, but still look good, sometimes even on their death-bed.
I knew little about this story before the film came out, and I think it captures the response to the AIDS crisis well. I was not alive until the 90s, and there was not aware of what had happened in recent history. The medical community are the bad guys in this film, which felt a touch exaggerated, but the need for these clubs clearly sprung out of a void of proper care. The cinematography adds a documentary feel to the story, appropriate for a 'based on a true story.'
A film to see for its acting and the very powerful story it has to tell.