Matthew McConaughey won his Oscar from his first Oscar nomination for portraying Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
Matthew McConaughey's career resurgence, out of the black hole of bad romantic comedies, of 2012 with film like Bernie and Killer Joe was indeed only an indication of what would come as he followed it in 2013 with his performances in Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street, and his leading performance here in Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey is not just choosing better projects though, but he is also proving himself more than worthy of every role he takes on as well. The role of Ron Woodroof is quite a jumble, in not only who the character is, but also what happens to the character, and most importantly how much the character really needs to do within the context of the film's structure. There are many parts to this man, and McConaughey seems ready to take each part to form a single man.
The first aspect that one would notice and expect from an actor playing an HIV patient is frankly the suffering. McConaughey in this regard is excellent. He of course has the look of the haggard AIDS patient with his especially think frame, but there is much more to McConaughey's work than his dramatic weight loss. Throughout the film Woodroof suffers various pains, particularly early on when he refuses to recognize his problem. McConaughey brings to life every point of Woodroof's condition to the screen with a great precision. The moments of physical pain are done are done completely to the point by McConaughey never using them to be an overly dramatic scene, but rather he bluntly shows where Woodroof is in regards to his health from one moment to the next.
McConaughey's portrayal of Woodroof's physical state is only one aspect though of his performance as this is a story about the man Woodroof is more than what is ailing his body. At the beginning of his film Woodroof is philandering, drinking, smoking, gambling, cheating, and cocaine snorting fellow. McConaughey is very effective in his portrayal of these early scenes showing this as being pretty much the every day routine for old Ron. McConaughey conveys the casual attitude the man has to his life incredibly well in his kind of pleasure seeking daze. This changes though quite rapidly when Ron comes to learn that he is HIV positive. Ron is quite in disbelief especially since he thinks that only homosexuals contract the disease.
McConaughey is amazing in the scene in which Woodroof is given his diagnosis. This would be an easy scene to overplay in so many fashions especially when Woodroof begins to espouse his hatred toward homosexuals. In regard to that aspect of Ron McConaughey is very realistic by showing just as the most casual of responses as this view just has always been Ron's view towards gay people. McConaughey hits every note needed for the scene from Ron's strong disbelief over the idea of him even being capable of having HIV along with subtle fear in his reaction, but as well a defiance to even recognize it. McConaughey realizes the complicated emotions of the moment in Ron vividly and shows all that Ron is going through in the moment.
The diagnosis at first only leads Ron down a path of destruction as he refuses to recognize the diagnosis as truth. McConaughey is marvelous because there is never a moment he is not furthering the path of Ron. Any moment, especially these early scenes, could just be Ron being stupid and not listening, but that's not what McConaughey does with these scenes. McConaughey surely does show the denial in Ron, but that is not all there is. McConaughey shows, even before his wake up call in a hospital bed, that Ron is no longer in his pleasure seeking daze. McConaughey suggests that unease in the man as he slowly sees the reality about himself. McConaughey has an especially powerful scene where Ron prays at a strip bar. The set up never seems forced because how truthful McConaughey is in his portrayal of Ron's trying to reach for something to live.
Ron manages to find himself a way through a bit of luck that seems to be a way for him to live, and thrive by selling untested medicines to other HIV patients. The strongest quality within Ron is his individualistic streak that propels him to come up with his scheme for survival. McConaughey creates this in Ron to allow it to be absolutely palatable. There is such a strong passion that McConaughey brings to Ron and we see how a man could do what Ron does. When Ron basically says to his doctors that he refuses to die in thirty days even though it seems like there is no other option, McConaughey makes it more of an inevitability that he will not die in his allotted time. McConaughey brings such a convincing strength in the role showing that nothing will kill this man in thirty days.
When Ron opens the Dallas Buyers Club he has not necessarily become a good person, as he is definitely making plenty of money from it, but he is a changed man from before. McConaughey is so good because there is nothing unnatural about Ron's transition. He earns every moment including Ron losing his animosity toward homosexuals once he starts an alliance with the cross dressing Rayon (Jared Leto). McConaughey does not oversell this by having Ron instantly accepting. He nicely moves through from begrudgingly accepting them, with the obvious monetary boon, to slowly becoming openly so. McConaughey never jumps once with this, and by doing so he makes the change in Ron far more moving and remarkable because it comes off as so natural.
The natural quality of this change is also true as Ron slowly becomes more selfless in his use of the club. McConaughey again only feels genuine as he portrays Ron becoming more invested in his plan that he made originally mostly to make money and save his own skin. I love that there is not a single scene where he just realizes he needs to do good now, or even sees that he has been selfish in some. No there is none of that rather McConaughey makes the change happen with great poignancy by having the passion in Ron only grow more and more as the pressures and forces against him only seem to becomes stronger. McConaughey allows this story to be easily invested with because he brings such conviction in portraying of one man's will to live.
Now one thing I have not mentioned yet is how great this performance is in just the most traditional sort of way. What I mean by that is how magnetic McConaughey here as he energizes every single scene he is in, and never fails to put every ounce of himself into the part. McConaughey carries the film with such ease and grace, and he utilizes his charm perfectly. McConaughey is rather cunning in his choice to hold back on his abundance of natural charm at the beginning of the film and effectively releases it really when Ron starts to become a far more self-realized individual. McConaughey seems like he was not content with this film just being a character piece as every scene he sells to its fullest, and making the emotional impact of them fierce though with the appropriate nuance.
This is a captivating piece of acting by McConaughey as he realizes a full portrait of the complex man of Ron Woodroof. The part could have easily been turned into bad Oscar bait and the film also could have easily gone the wrong direction if that happened. McConaughey does not let that happen though, as he brings the whole story to the forefront never letting one detail lie inert in his depiction. McConaughey technically gives a risky performance by going in every direction with Woodroof, but seems to achieve perfection as all of it adds up to one man. All I really can say is I love this performance and I love that Matthew
McConaughey has decided to let everyone know just how talented he is. This is Matthew McConaughey greatest performance yet, and it is wonderful that McConaughey has made that really mean something.