What would you do if you were told you had only 30 days left to live? Would everything seem pointless? Would you give up and live your last days in agony or would you try to make the most of what time you had left? If you were Ron Woodroof, the man at the center of the true story of Dallas Buyers Club, you would scoff at the notion of dying and do everything you could to live a long and meaningful life.
Ron Woodroof, played here by Matthew McConaughey, is an electrician and bull-rider who finds out one day while in the hospital that he has AIDS. He is told that he has about 30 days left to live. Well, not if he has anything to say about it. What happens next is a quest for Ron to find medication that will work in combating his disease. Unfortunately, what he finds out, is that the medication he really needs isn't easy to find. This true story takes place in the 1980s when it appears that finding the right medication for AIDS was a real problem. The only drug that hospitals seemed to want to put out was a drug that was very questionable in its effects. This drug may have been more of a problem than a help in the long run.
Having no success getting the medication he needs from the hospitals in the United States, Ron heads to Mexico to meet with a doctor he hears might be able to offer some help in bettering his health. What he finds in Mexico is very different from what is being offered in the United States and it also seems to work much better. Finding this out, Ron decides to bring back lots of things from Mexico so he can give them to other people who have been diagnosed with AIDS. To do this, he starts selling memberships to what is called the Dallas Buyers Club, a club of which the members are all given the vitamins and other necessary things to help keep healthy while living with AIDS. Of course, none of the the things he is selling are approved by the FDA although none of them are anything illegal either. This, and the fact that he isn't selling the vitamins and other stuff themselves, but memberships to his club, are what keep him in a kind of gray area where he is able to help other people with AIDS.
Ron Woodroof is a man who took what could have been a grim future and completely turned it around into something amazing. Using his own research and his own experience in fighting AIDS, he was able to come up with a way to help himself and others struggling with AIDS and provide them with longer, healthier, lives than they would have normally had. Although he is a great man for what he did, what I like about this movie is that it doesn't sugarcoat everything. Ron Woodroof was not perfect. His first reaction upon hearing that he has AIDS is not anything to do with the disease itself, but of homosexuality and the implication that he may be homosexual himself. Ron Woodroof definitely begins the film, at least, with a very homophobic attitude. His triumphs outweigh his flaws, however, and by the end of the movie Ron Woodroof has learned a lot.
The acting in Dallas Buyers Club is top-notch. Matthew McConaughey electrifies the screen as Ron Woodroof. This is a role with the potential for lots of emotion, including sadness, humor, and anger. Matthew McConaughey displays all of this to full effect throughout the movie. He is easy to laugh with, uncomfortable to watch in certain misguided moments of anger, and totally easy to sympathize with in moments of pain. This is the kind of role that wins awards and really puts an actor in the limelight. If Matthew McConaughey isn't at least nominated for his unforgettable role then that would be a crime against cinema.
Also great in Dallas Buyers Club is Jared Leto as Rayon, a woman born in a man's body. Rayon is a fellow person with AIDS who meets Ron in the hospital. The relationship Ron forms with Rayon is very important in showing how having AIDS changed Ron's perspective on life. It is one of the strongest elements of the film and both actors deserve recognition for making that relationship really come to life.
The rest of the supporting cast is great as well. Jennifer Garner plays a doctor struggling to uphold the rules she is meant to enforce while facing the harsh realities of what is going on around her. She plays her role just right and every scene with her is a delight to watch. Denis O'Hare is perfect as the sort of villain doctor who always sticks to the rules even when they make little sense. Steve Zahn also leaves his mark in a small role as a cop that has various encounters with Ron Woodroof. It is also a pleasure to see Griffin Dunne, who was so great in his role in An American Werewolf in London in the '80s, pop up here as the doctor in Mexico who helps Ron out.
The editing here is really strong as the movie moves at a nice pace, but with scenes being allowed to have enough room for lots of great acting moments. The music in the movie suits it well, being uplifting, somber, and whatever else is necessary for each scene. The movie is well directed as all elements of the film really come together nicely.
Dallas Buyers Club is a great story made even greater by the fact that it is true. The acting, directing, editing, cinematography, music, and everything else that make up the film are all so well done that the movie is one not to miss. However, knowing that the story being told here really happened makes this even more of a must see movie. The story of Ron Woodroof is one that should be spread to as many people as possible so as to offer hope and inspiration to others as well as to show people just how much one person can achieve if they really try. Dallas Buyers Club is a great movie and then some.