Perhaps it was Vallée's reputation then, that convinced actors Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey to undergo some of the most dramatic physical transformation we've seen in recent cinema. Their skeletal frames were bared in the newly released UK trailer, displaying the immersive lengths both actors have gone to for the project.
McConaughey stars as redneck Ron Woodroof, a hedonist and homophobe in equal measure, who is diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. When the permitted drugs only worsen his condition, Ron turns to smuggling unapproved but effective anti-viral drugs from around the world, supplying a lifeline to himself and fellow sufferers. Ron is, in the actor's words, 'an American original...he shook a tree. He made a noise'.
McConaughey has moved away from his Sexiest Man Alive status and the shirtless rom-com roles (think: The Wedding Planner or How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days) that made him -or at least his perma-tan- famous. Following last year's southern gothic Killer Joe and gritty coming of age drama Mud , his career is fast becoming one of the most interesting and surprising amongst the A-list.
But it is co-star Jared Leto, playing transgender HIV patient Rayon, who has been hailed as the film's revelation, with a performance that has already seen him win 'Breakthrough Actor' at the Hollywood Film Festival.
Despite a promising early burst of work that saw Leto collaborate with directors as diverse as David Fincher (Panic Room, Fight Club) and Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) the talented actor stalled his film career to focus on his successful rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars.
With his welcome return to acting, Leto thoroughly immersed himself in his character. When asked at the premiere whether he had known his co-star prior to filming, he answered 'Not at all. I met him for the first time yesterday. That was the first conversation we had where I wasn't Rayon.'
In his quest for realism, Vallée has been known to reduce his crew to its barest necessities, often working with only his cameraman, a focus puller and the actors. In this way he removes the artificiality of the set, allowing the actors sink into their character's reality, 'because there's no mark and they don't feel the heat of the light'.
These stringent methods have paid off, and Dallas Buyers Club rings with both emotional sincerity and humour. Crucially, Vallée has avoided preaching an overpowering message about HIV, drugs or the gender issues it touches upon. Instead, the two very human performances at the centre of the film are allowed to speak for themselves; the depicted suffering remains dignified, and this dignity is facilitated through the community and friendship of the characters.
|What||Dallas Buyers Club|
|Where||Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Acton Town (underground)|
07 Feb 14 – 01 May 14, 12:00 AM