Prior to his diagnosis, Ron Woodruff (played excellently by Matthew McConaughey) believes that HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, only affects homosexual men. Ron Woodruff is a junkie who among other things has unprotected sex with a large number of women. He initially doesn’t understand how he has acquired HIV, but slowly accepts and understands his fate after being given only thirty days to live upon initial diagnosis, but he rejects the notion that he will die in thirty days; having a rodeo background he absolutely refuses to go down under the time given. He was given thirty days in 1985. He lived until the year 1992.
Just around the time Woodruff was diagnosed, a new drug called AZT was the first pharmaceutical approved by the FDA to help treat patients stricken with HIV/AIDS. The drug was only approved for testing purposes, however, and only a small number of patients got a hold of it. After making a contact within the hospital he attains AZT and starts taking it regularly, soon realizing that it is making his already fragile condition worse. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant when he is playing the very sick Woodruff, who is completely taken over by his malady, contemplating suicide at one point. After being given another contact, he travels to Mexico where he learns that there are many non-FDA approved drugs he can take to the states and use for himself and others. Posing as a priest taking the drugs for himself, Woodruff travels back to the states and starts up a business with a transgender woman he meets in a hospital played by the ever-talented and impressive Jared Leto. They soon begin selling drugs to the people of Dallas to help treat those impacted by HIV/AIDS.
During this time, Woodruff becomes less homophobic, somewhat tolerating his new partner, and even lives a life of sobriety, understanding that it is an important aspect to his treatment. Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto lost weight for their roles, in the excess of 40 pounds, and both give Oscar-worthy performances for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Both actors shine when they are on screen, and their chemistry as a business team is dynamic and fun to watch. Jennifer Garner plays a part in the film as well, as a doctor treating Woodruff and later a friend of his. She takes a different stance on the treatment of AIDS then Woodruff, believing that what he is doing is wrong, bringing a moral dilemma to the viewer. Should Ron be doing this? Or should the treatment be left up to the hospital? You can’t help but side with the infectious Ron who once again is given substance and charm by McConaughey.
“Dallas Buyers Club” is told in terms of days, showing how far Ron actually goes past his thirty days. Directed by the man who made “The Young Victoria”, Jean-Marc Vallée, the film is made in a stream of consciousness, personal way. We are given all sides of the story and are immersed in the sudden cuts and jumps in the film. It is a terrific feat being able to make a true story such as this lively and distinctive in terms of filmmaking, but the story is filled with lively and distinctive characters, so maybe it wasn’t that hard. The film’s plot can feel slow at times, though, but this is always fixed and made up for by the film’s cuts and characters.
A sure contender during award season, “Dallas Buyers Club” is able to appeal to a diverse selection of people, which is very important in any film, especially a film that deals with a very misunderstood disease. While not the best film I’ve seen this year so far, it was one that I will definitely watch again and reflect upon, particularly the performances McConaughey and Leto, which sadly overshadowed a lot of the other aspects of this film, making it almost feel as if they were the only reason to see this movie. Well that’s my review of “Dallas Buyers Club”, folks; I’m Matt Hamilton and my distaste of literature is always growing and becoming a more perturbing factor in my everyday life.
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