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Dallas Buyers Club (DQ)


Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn, Denis O'Hare, Griffin Dunne, Michael O'Neill, Dallas Roberts, Kevin Rankin

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Another classy performance from a revitalised McConaughey highlights this no-holds-barred true story of one man's efforts to beat the AIDs virus in the 1980s.

A hard-drinking, sex-hungry, rodeo-riding electrician and all-round girl magnet, macho Texan Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is incredulous when doctors Sevard (O'Hare) and Eve (Garner) inform him he has AIDs and 30 days to live.

At first believing there's been some kind of mix-up, Ron researches the subject and is horrified to find that only 71% of AIDs victims are gay. His addictions to drugs and unprotected sex have put him at risk.

Obtaining illegal amounts of the improved drug AZT, Ron fights to stay alive. When told that the drug is destroying his immune system, Ron heads to Mexico, where a sympathetic (if struck-off) doctor (Dunne) puts him on vitamins and a drug called Peptide T.

Smuggling a massive stash of the drug back to the US, Ron sets up the Dallas Buyers Club, with the assistance of a few helpers, notably Rayon (Leto), a gay AIDs victim, getting round the law that makes it illegal to sell drugs by charging his 'patients' $400 to join the club and dispensing the medicine for free.

The focus of the film falls on the remarkable platonic relationship between the aggressively heterosexual Ron and the flamboyantly homosexual Rayon, a partnership that prolonged the lives of hundreds of sufferers and took its fight to supply Peptide T to the highest court.

Thoroughly absorbing for most of the way, the film is a mite long and drags a bit towards the end. A deglamorised Garner gives effective support as the doctor who gradually becomes the boys' reluctant partner in 'crime', and Leto is fine in a showy role. But it's McConaughey's hollow, haunted face that you'll remember.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by deluxe.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Feb 2014