Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dear Jodie - Dallas Buyers Club

In Dallas Buyers Club, the scene between Rayon and his father took me back more than thirty years, to the early 80's, a time before the real life events of the movie.

My cousin Charles danced for the Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all male ballet troupe, for a number of years. When they came through Dallas in 1980 my mother, sister, brother, and I went to a performance in Dallas at my cousin's invitation, and met him for dinner and drinks after.

This was his announcement to us that he was gay.

He danced the women's parts, and damn well, too.

We talked about old times. He asked about his father, and sisters, and seemed genuinely interested.  We gave suitable replies.  At the end of the evening, Charles reminded me that though he was five years my senior, we learned how to fish at the same time, and that the same man taught us, a man whose parents were born into slavery. 

He asked that I remember that.

Four years later my Uncle Eldredge, Charles's father, called and asked that we meet him at DFW airport, he was changing plains on his way to San Francisco.  Only my mother and I could go.

Charles, Eldredge told us over a cup of coffee, was in San Francisco and dying of "a wasting disease of some kind or other."  In 1984, Mom and I knew of HIV and AIDS, but Eldredge was a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  We didn't push the matter, nor did he.

He was sad that his son was dying, but truly wanted to see him.  I saw the truth swirling in my uncle's eyes, and his struggle to accept it.  Charles died while Eldredge was out there, and Eldredge on his return trip said they had talked quite a bit, and hugged.

How hard that must have been for my uncle given his conservative religious beliefs and the way he was raised.

As much as anything, Jodie, I think Dallas Buyers Club is about accepting things outside of our normal range to accept.  It's about jumping out of the comfort of a plane and riding a bolt of lightening to the ground.  Matthew McConaughey gives a stellar performance to my mind of a man who is dragged kicking and screaming into a different world, one that he gives the finger to time after time, only to finally understand that he is just like each of them, a person fighting to survive.

And at the end he fights for them, just as hard and as passionately as he hates them earlier in the movie.  I wish they had spent more time here.  The movie makers glossed over this a little to my mind.

Jerod Leto!  Whoa!  What an amazing performance as well!

Because of the other two performances, I'm afraid that Jennifer Garner's gets lost, but it shouldn't.  She, too, was terrific!

I give this movie a solid 8 out of 10.  I thought some of the edits were a bit clunky, and the time line confused me at various points, but definitely, this is a movie to see once.

And I am remembering that the same man taught me and my cousin to fish, a man whose parents were born into slavery.

What do you think, Jodie?

Check out Jodie's take here.

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