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‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2013)

The Matthew McConaughey resurrection marches on, sucking up the awards and acclaim long denied our favourite rom-com slummer. From the dark days of Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past comes the best of a string of five or six extraordinary indie turns, the air sweet with the smell of a decent character actor realising the potential of his twenties and crashing back to relevance after a fifteen year dry patch.

Whether it be politics, historic genocide or – in this case – AIDS, you toss in a little body transformation (practiced before by co-star Jared Leto in the less-appreciated Chapter 27), and you’re soon putting up new shelving to handle the torrent of silverware. It’s to Dallas Buyers Club’s credit that it fights a winning battle against the dreaded assumptions around subject-matter heavy awards contenders. This is more Philadelphia than Monster, noteworthy beyond its exceptional performances for telling a singular, worthy story whilst touching effectively on attitudes to the disease/treatment during the period amongst both the local community and wider government.

Loathe though I am to encourage longer runtimes, if Dallas Buyers Club seems a tad unremarkable (Leto and McConaughey aside), it’s the result of elements that feel crudely shaved away or condensed. Vallée fudges the pacing in the second half, skimming over interesting developments in the story by jumping too readily into poorly executed montages. Relative to the strength of a cast always happy to smooth over any blips in the edit, these are mere minor failings.

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