Dallas Buyers Club Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Release Date: February 4, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 234 minutes



            Dallas  Buyers Club is a marvelously competent film, both engaging and inspirational, entertaining yet grounded in the reality of a true story. It is nearly impossible not to like Dallas Buyers Club, which is why I have such difficulty expressing my skepticism in any real point to the film’s narrative. However capable the filmmaking or flashy the performances may be, the end result of the film’s narrative fails to strike any cords of relevance beyond the protagonist’s willingness to do anything to survive. It captures a rare chapter in American history where an individual attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to challenge the seemingly tyrannous monopoly that is the pharmaceutical industry.


            Matthew McConaughey leads the cast as the spitfire cowboy/electrician Ron Woodroof, a man whose existence is tied into his machismo and ability to bed women. During a time when the HIV virus and Aids were thought to be a disease primarily affecting homosexuals, and living in an uncompromisingly bigoted area of Texas, Woodroof loses his precious image along with the promise of a future when he is diagnosed as HIV-positive. Unwilling to believe it as truth until discovering that the disease is transmittable through heterosexual sex as well, Woodroof retains a stubborn resistance to the thought of dying, even when doctors estimate one month to live.


            Using any method or means available, Woodroof struggles to overcome the odds of the disease, discovering effective illegal treatments along the way. Much of the film focuses on the battle that Woodroof fights against the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies which don’t appreciate his unwillingness to allow them to make all of the rules. While some of this fight seems to make a difference, it is telling that the drug Woodroof spent much of his time rallying against eventually became the primarily tool in fighting the disease. This makes Woodroof’s personal journey of far more significance, specifically in his relationship with the homosexuals he had always had prejudice against. This growth happens as Woodroof develops a friendship with a fellow patient, Rayon (Jared Leto), who helps in the establishment of a buyers club to help disperse untested and unapproved medications in Dallas.


            Underneath this specifically personal narrative and the larger issue of medication choices in dealing with the HIV virus in the 1980s is a structure which seems transparently directed at those responsible for deciding who is to receive awards. Far more significant to the film’s overall experience than the end result of the story or the themes gathered along the journey are the performances which carry it to that end. When you have several attractive actors willing to drastically alter their appearance around award-season, I can’t help but feel as though I am being pandered to. McConaughey and Leto may as well be on the street corner begging for an Oscar, though as irritating as I find this transparency, there is no denying that they would be deserving of the accolade.


            The Blu-ray combo pack release of Dallas Buyers Club also includes a DVD and digital copy of the film. The one thing that seems to be missing from this release is an adequate amount of special features. Despite the certainty of award-season hype, there is only a simple making-of featurette and a handful of deleted scenes in the extras.


    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 7/10

    Disc Features: 4.5/10


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