Dallas Buyers Club is another of the “based on a true story” flicks this season vying for some awards love. It’s all about hard-partyin’, rodeo ridin’ Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof who was shocked to be diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 because it was then considered a “gay” disease. Shunned by his friends and unable to find the any treatment that would save him, he did his own research and found a doctor in Mexico with an effective drug combination. And when it worked for him, he recognized a great business opportunity in importing it for other AIDS patients. Matthew McConaughey starved himself into skeletal shape for the role, but fortunately his portrayal is much more than skin deep. It’s definitely an Oscar worthy turn!
The other stand-out performance in the film is Jared Leto, playing a druggy transvestite named Rayon who meets Ron in the hospital AIDS ward, and later becomes his partner in a buyers club. Theirs is not an easy relationship, but is the emotional center of the film. Where Ron starts out bringing back the drugs purely for the money, he slowly becomes less mercenary and more humane. But fear not! This isn’t a preachy, AIDS documentary-esque film at all. It is a smart, character-driven story with a really great script and great performances all around. Jennifer Garner plays one of the AIDS doctors who knows that the drug AZT is not all the drug company is promising and becomes an ally of Ron and his motley crew. The Buyers Club of the title was Ron’s way around the laws that made it illegal to treat patients or sell unapproved drugs. AIDS patients just had to pay dues to his club to get free drugs. But unfortunately, the FDA was in cahoots with the pharmaceutical companies and threw up obstacle after obstacle to stop Ron from treating desperate AIDS patients.
I don’t know what happened to Matthew McConaughey. All of a sudden he is stepping up and showing that he is a great actor – Magic Mike, Mud and now Dallas Buyers Club. I hope he keeps ’em coming! His performance here is really outstanding. He and Jared Leto should both expect nominations come awards time. And the film, too. I’d recommend it for all audiences. Really.