I used to HATE Matthew McConaughey. No exaggeration here, he was not only my most hated actor, but most hated person. I hated him sooooo much. There is no textual emphasis I can apply that shows how accurately I hated him. I know it largely stemmed from his terrible movie choices, being in godawful romcoms and seeming so fake and cheesy with that annoying accent and Southern twinge. There was literally nothing he could do right, and I was goddamn fine with that. Hey, but of course you know where this is going, I pretty much forgot all about him, but then the last couple years happened. Movies like Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud, Magic Mike and his pretty great turn in Eastbound & Down happened, where, hey, we realized McConaughey isn’t just a romcom conduit and a lifeless drone, he’s actually, you know, a good actor. Reluctantly I got sucked in, and I couldn’t help myself but be insanely impressed by his career turnaround. Let us please theorize to what happened to Matthew McConaughey in 2010. He had some good and bad movies throughout the 90’s and early 00’s, but nothing really to speak of in any true positive or negative light. You had your Dazed And Confused, Contact, Amistad, but also The Wedding Planner and Reign Of Fire among others. Then you had How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Sahara, Two For The Money (mediocre, but still), Failure To Launch, We Are Marshall, Fool’s Gold, Surfer, Dude, and the Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past. Just an insane 6-7 year run of utterly terrible McConaughey movies that fueled my hatred. And then 2010 happened, he did not star in a single film, and then 2011 happened, and it’s been all money since then. To present it’s been The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe, Eastbound & Down, The Paperboy, Mud, Magic Mike, and now the film we’re eventually going to talk about, Dallas Buyers Club. Not a rom-com or dud in the bunch, so I guess some goddamn soul-searching went on in ’10, and he decided that “hey, maybe dumb, stupid romantic comedies aren’t the best thing to build a career off of.” I love Matthew McConaughey so much now.
So, hey, this is McConaughey’s best performance ever. It’s so, so great. He basically plays a sexist, homophobic asshole, who really gets what coming to him when he contracts AIDS from the his many unprotected sex trysts, but then starts a crusade for proper medication and treatment for the disease, even while spurned out his arrogance and selfishness. He’s not really an anti-hero per se, I really don’t know if you could classify him as anything really, definitely not a villain, but really not a hero in any traditional sense. Of course, he pushed for these exotic medicines because he wanted them for himself, so he would survive, but legitimately felt for others who suffered the same as him to get them these products, even if he did demand $400 a month up front before they even saw the medicine. This really was the perfect and “made for” role for McConaughey, the outgoing, off-colour Texan with an agenda, and he hits every note perfectly. It semi-sucks, because in any other year, he’d be the frontrunner for the Best Actor Academy Award, but so does Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance exist this year, and I think it’s going to be mighty hard to beat that. But, again, what do I know, and also again, Joaquin Phoenix should’ve won last year, and didn’t, and also awards are dumb, but I’m always so fixated on them. C’mon, Evan, just love the performances as is.
Coming into the film, though, I heard that “yeah, yeah, yeah, McConaughey is great, but the surrounding films suffers,” uh, yeah, that’s not true at all. McConaughey makes the film for sure, but it’s not solely his performance that makes it great. Not only is it a sleek and tight “bio-pic,” but it’s incredibly cool and engaging in it’s 80’s setting, humour and reverence to the issues that it presents, whether scientific, homosexual, or really just goddamn human. Jared Leto came out of the darkness to give us an incredible and heartbreaking performance that is sure to garner some Best Supporting Actor nods. Jennifer Garner is pretty subdued and doesn’t push anything to far out, but she never has, and is all the better for it, being her typical good girl persona, who eventually decides the side she’d rather be on. This is an entirely long way to say that this is a very well rounded movie with a stunning lead performance, really all you could ask for in a film. I love you Matthew McConaughey, let’s put that on record.