I didn’t catch Dallas Buyers Club on it’s cinema release. I wanted to see it but one thing led to another and, you know, life, etc, etc but I didn’t, well couldn’t avoid the buzz and, of course, it’s McConaughey. As luck would have it, or not, I’ve received my rental copy the week following the British TV première of Ryan Murphy’s rather excellent The Normal Heart.
In fairness, whilst both films start with AIDS they are about entirely different things but the stories and characters chosen are symptomatic of the difference in attitude between the small and large screen. The latter is a stirring campaign film, a cry, a disaster movie in which the approaching monsoon is apathy and ignorance. It also runs a nice sideline in representing the tension between the simplistic answer of ‘stop having sex’ and the very real, but rarely explained/contextualised, idea of sexual activity itself being a political act.
The former is a personal drama in which the virus forces the straight protagonist to meet gays and, shock horror, they turn out to be people and history is cherry-picked to allow us progressive 2014 folks to feel that, just like Forrest and his good ol’ ways escorting that girl into school and breaking segregation, we would have done something. Wouldn’t we? Didn’t we? No. The proof is history. I suppose it’s saving grace is that the central character isn’t exactly altruistic but even with that focus the film doesn’t have much to say.
Of course both films are well acted, directed and blah blah blah.
One of them is recommended.
For a devastating look at the arrival of HIV/AIDS I would recommend the brilliant documentary We Were Here (2011).