When both actors win the Academy Awards for their roles in a film, it becomes an automatic viewing choice. The film though, seems like a slice of what it could have been, incomplete without the performances of the two strong characters.
Mathew McConaughey has pushed his physical limits to embody his role, which was his biggest ‘prop’ or ‘asset’ for this character. His attitude, body language and most importantly his transformation whilst holding on to his deeply wounded masculinity, was his trump card. Jared Leto on the other hand, was a revelation with his soft voice, comfortably feminine demeanour and was not threatened by his co-actor’s brutish ways.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee serves us a portion of history, making valid commentary on the dismal state of the USA health and FDA system, even today. The way people with AIDS were ostracised and groups within them were treated with great prejudice, has evolved with the quality of drugs, a battle started by such clubs back in the 80s.
The film has moments just like the patients it shows us, blacking out in parts, slowing down with dementia and speeding up as a reaction to a drug. That may have been deliberate or just a result of depicting something so stark, but it didn’t work. The only thing that worked was the authenticity of the age and the performances, which have got their due.