Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey's finest performance comes to Netflix

Dallas Buyers Club (16+, 116mins) Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee *****
Almost two decades after he burst onto the scene with the searing one-two punch of A Time to Kill and Lone Star, Matthew McConaughey finally delivered on that early promise with this 2013 drama (which has just arrived back on Netflix).

Mired in a seemingly never-ending series of shirt-off, throwaway rom-com and action roles (Sahara, The Wedding Planner, Ghosts of Girlfriends' Past) throughout the noughties, this capped off a short golden run of meatier turns for the Texan, which transformed him into a compelling screen presence.

From Killer Joe to Mud and Magic Mike to The Wolf of Wall St, McConaughey had been stealing minds as well as hearts with a succession of you-can't take your eyes off him roles, culminating in this truly stunning performance as electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof.

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Jared Leto plays Rayon and Matthew McConaughey is Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.

Rivalling Christian Bale's turn in The Machinist for sheer alarming physical transformation, McConaughey does a fantastic job of charting redneck, reckless Ron's metamorphosis into a champion and tireless campaigner for those with Aids. Imagine if Denzel Washington's Philadelphia character had contracted HIV and you'll have some idea of the real-life tale told within Jean-Marc Vallee's (The Young Victoria) stark and stylish film.

It's while being assessed for the after-effects of being electrified that Woodroof first receives the news. Doctors at Dallas Mercy Hospital conduct additional blood tests which come back positive for HIV the Aids virus.

Initially convinced that they must have mixed up his test with "a daisy puller", the combination of "lungs bleeding, skin crawling and a jackhammer in my head" persuades him otherwise. And when going on a bender doesn't help, he throws himself into research, which leads him to the experimental drug AZT.

Dallas Mercy won't let him on the trial, so he decides to do a deal with one of the orderlies.

Dallas Buyers Club is a triumph of low-budget film-making, exquisite storytelling and an actor at the peak of his powers.

To his horror though, AZT actually seems to be making him feel worse and he makes a desperate run south of the border to a doctor who takes a more "naturalistic" approach.

Making something of a miraculous difference to Woodroof, he becomes convinced that it could help others, if only there was a way of skirting the Federal Drug Agency's draconian rules.

Co-screenwriter Craig Borten spent many hours with an ailing Woodroof to compile the material. The result is well worthwhile as what seems such an intimate tale becomes a globetrotting epic, with the charismatic and cantankerous Woodroof seeking to find ways to stay ahead of both the US authorities and the virus.

McConaughey is supported by a terrific cast ,that includes a scene-stealing Jared Leto and a beautifully understated Jennifer Garner.

A triumph of low- budget film-making, exquisite storytelling and an actor at the peak of his powers.

Dallas Buyers Club is now streaming on Netflix.


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