DVD & Blu-ray reviews: Dallas Buyers Club, Jamaica Inn, Out of the Furnace, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, That Awkward Moment


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The Independent Culture

Dallas Buyers Club (15) Jean-Marc Vallee, DVD/Blu-ray (116mins)

“Sorry lady, but I’d prefer to die with my boots on,” is the first semi-endearing thing Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey’s bigoted, homophobic electrician utters in this powerful portrait of defiance. McConaughey, whose transformation into an actor of quite considerable substance is now complete, plays Ron Woodroof, a rodeo fanatic diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986. He’s given 30 days to live, but perseveres far longer than that, thanks to alternative therapies. The most affecting thing here is the one-time bigot’s relationship with gay transvestite Rayon (Jared Leto) and his defence of him in a local supermarket is whoop-inducing.


Jamaica Inn (12) Philippa Lowthorpe, DVD/Blu-ray (180mins)

There’s enough mumbling going on here that subtitles are required, but otherwise this is a fairly decent stab at Daphne Du Maurier’s rum tale of Cornish shipwreckers in 1820. Jessica Brown Findlay plays the headstrong Mary, who rejects the gentle affections of her childhood sweetheart and takes off for a life with her unsavoury aunt (Joanne Whalley) and her violent uncle (Sean Harris, as intense as always) at Jamaica Inn. This mud-splattered adaptation strives hard for authenticity – the slaying of people forced to throw themselves overboard is pretty distressing – and the chemistry between Findlay and Matthew McNulty’s horse thief is strong.


Out of the Furnace (15) Scott Cooper, DVD/Blu-ray (117mins)

Intensity levels are cranked up to boiling point for Scott Cooper’s bleak and brutal look at the underprivileged in small-town America. Christian Bale’s decent Russell works in a dead-end job at the imperiled local mill, while his brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck), has served four tours fighting in Iraq. A damaged, clearly suicidal Rodney decides to compete in a bare-knuckle contest, organised by Woody Harrelson’s deranged hoodlum. It can’t end well. Bale is excellent in this star-studded (it also stars Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe and Zoe Saldana) modern-day Western.


Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (12) Kenneth Branagh, DVD/Blu-ray (105mins)

For an hour this is a perfectly acceptable Jack Ryan adventure, with Chris Pine doing solid work as the former marine investigating financial irregularities for the CIA. The young turk unearths some particularly shady business in Moscow and this where the best of the action occurs. However, the plot and chases wear thin in the last third and this is no Bourne – too bland, with too little peril. Keira Knightley and Kenneth Branagh are somewhat underused, too.


That Awkward Moment (15) Tom Gormican, DVD/Blu-ray (94mins)

One of those crass US dating comedies that make you fear for humanity. Three New York bachelors (led by smug Zac Efron) endeavour to stay single. That’s it. The talented Imogen Poots blots her copybook by gracing this dross.