Actor Matthew McConaughey does an amazing job transforming himself into HIV-infected rodeo lover Ron Woodroof ─ so much so, that you will barely recognize him in the based on a true story “Dallas Buyer Club.”
Woodroof (McConaughey) is a good ole’ boy oilfield electrician who has a passion for the rodeo, women, drink, and drugs (by the way, there are no oilfields in Dallas ─ I live there). Ron hasn’t been feeling too well, so he checks in with his doctor who gives him a blood test and comes back with the horrific news that he has been infected with HIV/Aids virus. Ron is incredulous: How can a heterosexual, homophobic, beer drinking, womanizing, good ole’ boy from the Texas oilfields be infected with HIV? The year is 1986 and HIV is generally thought to be passed only by homosexual sex and intravenous drug use. The doctor informs Ron that he has 30 days to live and he defiantly shoots back that “there is nothing on this earth that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days.”
First Ron recruits a hospital ward to steal some AZT from the hospital, but he soon finds out the drug is making him weaker. Then he buckles down and does some serious research on how to fight the virus (considering there was no Internet, this is a monumental task in itself). He finds out that the current experimental drug, AZT, is a highly toxic substance that given in high doses is killing people quickly. He also finds out that therapies in different countries include using holistic types of vitamin cocktails and proteins, which are more effective than the AZT. He drives down to Mexico, is consulted by some castaway doctor, and then buys a trunk load of holistic substances that the doctor believes are effective. On the way back home, Ron gets nabbed by customs, but somehow talks his way out of it by telling them that the substances are for personal use and are also legal.
When Ron gets home, he sets up shop. In true American fashion he uses his entrepreneurial skills by setting up a hotel room to sell his substances, in not exactly altruistic style. He will use a method that he has read about in the paper which offers customers a $400 membership in return for a substance allotment; and by doing so he sidesteps the current FDA laws. Essentially he is giving away the substances for free, and thus the “Dallas Buyers Club.”
At first business is slow so he recruits his transgendered roommate from the hospital Rayon (Jared Leto), who is in need drugs; but more importantly to Ron, knows tons of other people from the gay community who also need them. Rayon now becomes Ron’s first hand man/woman for marketing his substances. With Rayon’s help, Ron soon has people lined out of his door seeking help; but trouble is coming. The FDA arrives and seizes Ron stash, claiming that Ron is breaking the law.
Ron is a pretty ornery fellow and he is not about to go away. He travels to other foreign countries, which include Holland, Israel, and Japan, where he finds a new drug called “Interferon” being used. He makes a deal with the Japanese to purchase Interferon but they renege on the deal claiming that such a sale would be illegal. When Ron returns home he hooks up with a sympathetic doctor named Eve (Jennifer Garner) who has treated him previously and has also become a platonic semi-love interest. He asks if she could write him some prescriptions, which she emphatically would like to do, but cannot for obvious legal reasons. What does Ron do? He goes into her office and writes multiple prescriptions using the names of Dallas Cowboys football players. The FDA catches on quickly and confronts Ron by telling him he will be jailed, but a showdown in court seems imminent.
Matthew McConaughey, whose transformation into the Stetson wearing, sun glassed clad, Ron Woodroof is amazing. McConaughy reported lost 50 pounds for the role and his pencil-necked appearance is border line frightening. McConaughy won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor and is also nominated in the same category for an Academy Award. Leto’s transformation into the transgendered HIV-infected Rayon is equally stunning. Leto walked away with the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and is also nominated in the same category for an Academy Award. In all, “Dallas Buyers Club” is nominated for six Academy Awards. The movie confronts several stigmas head on in an intelligent thought provoking manner. See the movie; this is good stuff ─ and may just be an Oscar winner. (Rated R; runtime 117 mins.)
My Rating: 5 of 5 Homophobes.