Manuel Betancourt

Dallas Buyers Club, or How “You know what? You don’t deserve my money, you homophobic asshole”

February 8, 2014 · in Film, Oscars

Top 8 - Dallas Buyers ClubDallas Buyers Club

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallé
Written by: Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner & ??

Dallas Buyers Club
6 Oscar Nominations
Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Matthew McConaughey), Actor in a Supporting Role (Jared Leto),Writing -Original Screenplay (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling

“You know what? You don’t deserve my money, you homophobic asshole.”

And that line, delivered by Jared Leto as Rayon and spewed at Matthew McConaughey’s “homophobic asshole” Ron Woodruff pretty much sums up my feelings about this film. That is not to say the film is wholly disposable or even an outright disaster. Whatever my feelings about the vexed politics of this script (“hate the sin, love the sinner” has never gotten such a red-neck martyrdom makeover!) and the shoddiness of its plotting (its hectic fast-forwarding device, while necessary is not for that any less distracting), the performances from its leading men are quite an accomplishment. Leto, in particular, who gets an unsurprisingly cartoon of a character to play, makes Rayon such a mess of human imperfections that when you stare into those beautifully ravaged eyes, you cannot help but ache for the way the screenplay throws him under the bus so as to better frame the last third of the film as an uplifting journey (“now it’s personal!”) for our homophobic hero. I could go at length about the ways the screenplay, in choosing to present Ron Woodruff’s story as a David vs Goliath match at the expense of more nuanced characterization, does a disservice to the larger historical and cultural themes its trying to breach, or the way in which story and framing coincide to make minorities (Mexicans, African-Americans, gay men) mere colorful background to what is essentially another exceptional white man’s battle. The movie fights a good fight, and if the film draws more attention to the millions lost to, and those living with, AIDS, all the better, but clunky didacticism and white/straight-washing nevertheless leaves a bitter taste in the mouth no matter how palatable the intent. C+