Film Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Occasion: Friday Film with Friends
It is 1985 and the AIDS epidemic is sweeping through America. The disease is primarily associated with homosexuals and junkies, so when Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is told he has contracted HIV and has 30 days to live, he initially refuses to accept the diagnosis. However as reality begins to set in, Woodroof seeks a cure and discovers the approved medication being distributed to patients is making them even more sick. He heads to Mexico and begins importing drugs illegally, forming the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ in order to distribute them to others in need.
Based on a true story, Dallas Buyers Club is a startling and often ugly account of the battles fought by those early HIV victims: against discrimination by the public, the lack of knowledge and understanding of the disease by medical practitioners and against the regulatory rush of government authorities, as well as of course, against the virus itself. After losing everything he’d ever valued in life, Woodroof becomes a drug runner, a life-saver and ultimately a friend to those who have no hope left.
McConaughey is incredible on screen. Finally shedding the muscle-flaunting, Dazed and Confused bravado, he disgusts and charms his audience as the accidental hero. Leto is sublime as Rayon, a graceful and tender transgender woman and AIDS sufferer herself, who provides support and friendship to Woodroof when he needs it most.
Dallas Buyers Club is an ode to those who were claimed by AIDS in those early years of discovery and to the tireless doctors and researchers who tried to save them. It is an allegory which serves to remind us that the greatest way to ease one’s own pain is to help another. And it is a beautiful and moving film which deserves all the acclaim it has already and will continue to receive.
Dallas Buyers Club
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner and Denis O’Hare.
For another take on this film, read this review at What She Saw.