Dallas Buyers Club

By Peter Towe

Published on Friday, February 7, 2014


Matthew McConaughey has come a long way since the early 90’s when he got his fist break into Hollywood.  McConaughey played the stoner character to perfection (Dazed and Confused, etc.), and for the next ten years he would portray this role.  He put in his time, and now seemingly is able to get almost any role he wants.  Everyone has heard the hype about Dallas Buyers Club by now, and for good reason.  Not only is the film well shot, well written, and everything else, but the acting in the film is what makes it stand out against the other films from 2013.  Not that all the other Best Actor Oscar Nominations are misplaced, but it’s a safe assumption that McConaughey will walk away with the statue.  Matthew Maconaughey channeled the real life story of Ron Woodroof, who in 1985 found out he was HIV positive and had 30 days to live to perfection, and the end result is an emotional movie that will leave you thinking hours after the experience ends.


Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the mid 80’s, from the eyes of homophobic cowboy/electrician Ron Woodroof, who in 1985 was given 30 days to live.  After initially hearing the news that he had AIDS, Woodroof is unable to accept the diagnosis as he and a large percentage of people were under the belief that you needed to commit homosexual acts to get HIV/AIDS.  We now know this was not the case, but in 1985 after his friends heard that Ron had AIDS, he was ostracized and everyone turned their back on him except doctor Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner).  On his own, Ron did what he could to smuggle the HIV drug AZT, a dangerous and experimental drug, but to Ron it was his only shot.  Along with AZT, Ron drank, did cocaine, and smoked heavily.  After nearly dying, Ron meets Ryon (Jared Leto), a transgendered woman who also has AIDS, in the local hospital.  At this point, Ron is still very hostile and homophobic, and decides he needs to get out of the hospital, so he drives to Mexico to get more AZT.  While in Mexico, Ron meets an American doctor working on alternative treatment for AIDS who views AZT as poison.  Ron learns a great deal from Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne), and brings the knowledge and alternative medicines back to Texas where he teams up with Rayon to start The Dallas Buyers Club, which went against everything the FDA and federal government wanted.  Buyers Clubs were responsible for saving lives, and without these clubs the situation would have been much worse.

Matthew McConaughey dove into the character head first and came out on top.  We see the AIDS crisis through this intolerant cowboy, who over time becomes a new man and changes lives along the way.  The fight Ron and other buyers clubs put  up against the FDA were valiant, but of course failed in the end.  The FDA, backed by the government, has too much money to fight directly.  What Ron did was bring a lot of bureaucratic  issues to light.  During this time, the FDA changed their regulations to ban the supplements Ron and fellow buyers clubs were using to help patients.  From the very first scene, McConaughey embodies the character in the most believable and riveting performances of the year.

Besides McConaughey’s unbelievable performance, the film held up in a variety of other ways.  First, the supporting cast did an excellent job in supporting McConaughey’s performance.  Jared Leto is very comfortable as the transgendered Rayon, and watching Ron and Rayon’s relationship through the course of the film grow into what it became was incredible to watch.  In the beginning you would never expect their relationship to turn out the way it does, and by the end you’re sold.  Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, in his first American film, got incredible performances from his actors and will be a name bouncing around Hollywood for some time.  Dallas Buyers Club is a film worth the hype.  The performances are incredible, and the film is shot very stylistically.  The appealing visuals, mixed with the actors delivering well scripted dialogue made for a unique film that should teach everybody a little something along the way.

Dallas Buyers Club is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and stars Matthew McConaughey, Jennnifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn and is now playing in select theaters, and available on Comcast On Demand.

The Good

+ A beautifully shot film

+ Performances are incredible

+ Paced well and does a good job blending some humor with an awful situation


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