Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club photo starrating-4stars.jpgRon 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.

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23 Responses to “Dallas Buyers Club”

  1. GaryLee828 Says:

    This one hasn’t made it to my city yet, but I plan on seeing it when it does. I saw some photos on-set of McConaughey a while ago and he does look totally different. He is finally living up to the potential he showed all the way back in “A Time To Kill”. Maybe he gets an Oscar nod for this.

  2. Good review Mark. While it definitely has a true-tale that will inspire many people to fact-check it up on the good ole’ Wikipedia, the performances from Leto and McConaughey are what really make this material live and breath. Even when it seems like they are both struggling for air with their small-frames.

  3. Nice review. Still looking for this to get a wider release but good to hear a positive review. I’m very excited about this since McConaughey’s been on a roll as of late.

  4. Splendid review Mark. I greatly look forward to seeing stellar turns from McConaughey and Leto here.

  5. Just saw this one the other day. McConaughey certainly has the Midas touch right now…

    • In the past 2 years he’s done a complete 180 in choosing parts. I think we always knew he was more talented than those frivolous romantic comedies allowed us to see.

  6. Great review!

    I can’t wait to see this.

  7. This looks like it’d be either a really fun movie or a really somber movie. It looked like parts of both in the trailer…maybe that’s just me though.

    Side note: Did you watch Oliver Stone’s JFK tonight?

  8. Great review of one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Matthew has proven just how good of an actor he is in the last two years.

  9. This was unexpected to me. Had no idea this would be so good. Matthew has become such a great actor. Jared was also very good. I’m amazed at how good the story was too. Never heard of this true story. 4 stars.

    • Yes Matthew and Jared are really good in this film. Speaking of actors in this film, it’s interesting to note that Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner have acted together before. They did the wildly different romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past back in 2009.

  10. Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream?) had me convinced. His role amazed me on so many levels. Same with McConaughey, though to a lesser extent, maybe. I enjoyed the movie, but I felt like it was a bit episodic.

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