Ron Woodroof is a hard-partying, drug addicted Rodeo cowboy and electrician. It’s 1985 and the AIDS epidemic is in its early stages. The earliest outbreak was recorded in 1981. Given the lack of knowledge about the disease during the first 6 years, most sufferers were basically told to just wait it out. It wasn’t until 1987 when the FDA approved the first antiretroviral medication, AZT. Ron’s promiscuous lifestyle involves sex with lots of women. He is diagnosed with HIV and told he has 30 days to live. During these early years of AIDS, there were no medically sanctioned treatment options. There were however clinical trials through which some patients might receive AZT (others would get a placebo). Ron begins taking AZT. Initially there is some response, but over time his condition actually worsens. Instead of accepting this, Woodroof decides to take matters into his own hands.
Dallas Buyers Club is fashioned as the portrait of an iconoclast. By studying the available research Woodroof learns of a black market in other countries with untested drugs not recognized by the FDA. , Many have been shown to counteract the effects of AIDS. He obtains a trial of proteins, vitamins and medicine from a doctor in Mexico. His situation improves and his life is extended beyond 30 days. He then starts selling his own supply to those in need for $400-a-month. The enterprise becomes the Dallas Buyers Club, a huge network of buyers and sellers, for the distribution of experimental AIDS treatments out of his Oak Lawn, Texas, apartment. Dallas Buyers Club is essentially the profile of a man desperate to survive. The very desire to live is the most basic human right. However the script takes the FDA to task for its ‘slow to act’ drug approval policy during this time. Ron Woodroof also butts heads with the bureaucracy of the hospital for not having the patients’ best interests at heart. Actress Jennifer Garner is Dr. Eve Saks, a doctor sympathetic to his plight.
Dallas Buyers Club is highlighted by a pair of extraordinary performances. Matthew McConaughey’s depiction is powerful for its commitment. The individual presented exhibits a stripped down, natural complexity. His achievement is the pinnacle of a career that continues to impress with each successive role. Much of the drama concerns Ron’s slowly evolving attitudes. His character is a representation of society’s changing understanding of how the disease is spread. It’s emotionally resonant, but it’s hard not to also take into account his physical shape. Matthew McConaughey lost 47 pounds for the part. Filmgoers aware of the actor’s regular physique will be shocked by the transformation. A slender wisp of his former self, he is virtually unrecognizable. There are scenes of his ravaged body that are almost hard to watch. Ron’s business receives help from Rayon, a transgender HIV positive woman with a drug problem. She becomes an unlikely ally, especially for the bigoted good-ole-boy . Their improbable partnership provides Ron a link with the gay community through which he is able to distribute his pharmaceutical package. Jared Leto is quite memorable in the part. A scene where she dresses up in a suit and visits her father for money is particularly poignant.
Ron Woodroof doesn’t start out as a crusader for the betterment of mankind. His crusade is propelled by his own need to survive. The expansion of the Dallas Buyers Club is motivated by self interest. He is more entrepreneur than activist. But over time as his knowledge of the pharmaceuticals grows, he is able to intelligently prescribe based on the patient’s symptoms. His efforts extend the lives of many, including his own. Ron Woodroof doesn’t fit the profile of the typical AIDS sufferer. That’s what makes this story different. His uneasy relationship with gay people is difficult at first. His empathy for Rayon, a transgender woman, develops over the course of the chronicle. Dallas Buyers Club is not a Hollywood glossy biopic of a folk hero. He’s a hedonistic homophobic redneck that inadvertently saved lives and in the process, made a difference.