The good advance word continues to build on the AIDS-themed drama Dallas Buyers Club following its premiere Saturday at the Toronto Film Festival. The fact-based film stars Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruff, the real-life straight and homophobic Texas cowboy who, after being diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, became a runner of non-FDA approved drugs that had been proven effective in helping manage and fight HIV.
McConaughey lost 38 pounds to convincingly portray Woodruff and Jared Leto dropped 40 for his costarring role as Rayon, a transsexual drug addict. Both actors are being singled out for plaudits for their committed, nuanced performances.
IndieWire commends McConaughey’s “careful character work,” makes Woodruff “an immensely likable character, even what [sic] he’s at his homophobic worst.” The blog also found Leto’s work incredibly impressive, saying, “In what is often a scene-stealing performance, and one that surprisingly has the most emotional weight of the film, Jared Leto’s turn as the transvestite Rayon is one of rich warmth and humor.”
Variety also raves about the performances of both actors and adds, “Not since I Love You Phillip Morris has a film put such a fresh twist on the accepted AIDS narrative, but instead of getting in the public’s faces the way that crazy Jim Carrey comedy did, Dallas Buyers Club works its way under their skin. By choosing such a vocally homophobic antihero, writers Borten and Wallack ensure that no matter how uncomfortable audiences are with HIV or so-called ‘alternative lifestyles,’ they will recognize Woodruff’s knee-jerk bigotry as uncool. And thus, the film manages to educate without ever feeling didactic, and to entertain in the face of what would, to any other character, seem like a grim life sentence.”
The Hollywood Reporter is equally enamored stating that “McConaughey plays these subtle shifts beautifully in a rowdy turn that’s full of piss and vinegar but also unexpected heart.” Calling Leto’s supporting role showier, THR sys the actor “is simply wonderful. Fully inhabiting Rayon, he makes the slender creature anything but synthetic, his flirtatious banter poignantly underscored by helpless self-destructiveness.”
The Guardian gives the movie four out of five stars and says McConaughey “delivers a twitchy, hostile performance on par with anything he’s done since he escaped the rom com cul-de-sac. He’s matched by Jared Leto as Rayon, a transsexual drug addict who goes into business with Woodroof and carries the responsibility of broadening the shit-kicking cowboy’s world view.”
Deadline essentially predicts Oscar nominations for both actors. “It would seem an absolute no- brainer that both will be sitting front and center come March 2nd at the Dolby Theatre when Oscar winners are announced,” offers pundit Pete Hammond. “If there are two better performances by anyone this year I have not seen them.”
Dallas Buyers Club opens November 1. Watch the gripping trailer here.