I was never much of a fan of Matthew McConaughey. A few years into his acting career in the late 90’s, he showed promise by playing lawyers in two very good films, A Time to Kill and Amistad. But through the 2000’s he became more associated with bad romantic comedies – and for never having his shirt on. Well he still keeps his shirt off a lot of the time, but at least he’s been taking on more challenging roles. And Dallas Buyers Club is his best work ever.
The film is based on the life of Ron Woodruff. He was a typical homophobic, racist redneck from Texas who winds up contracting HIV back when most people still believed that to be a disease which only gay people got. Due to that belief, Ron doesn’t even accept that he has it when first told by doctors. But then after doing some research he finds out that doing intravenous drugs is one common way to contract the disease, something he did quite often, not to mention having unprotected sex as well. So Ron accepted the bad news and immediately sought treatment. But he soon found out that there was not much available treatment at the time. Hospitals began testing a new treatment known as AZT but they were using strong doses and didn’t know that it eventually would become more effective when mixed with other drugs. Ron discovered that there were other drugs not available in the United States that seemed less harmful to HIV patients.
Ron basically took his action in his own hands and went to other countries to obtain these drugs and illegally smuggle then into the U.S. He began his own “Dallas buyers club” to sell them to people who preferred this treatment and chose to forego hospitals. In the film, Ron receives assistance from a transgender woman named Rayon played by Jared Leto. This is someone who Ron would have nothing to do with had he never contracted the HIV virus and learned more about it. But this goes to show that the ill-fated disease actually made Ron a better and more understanding person. And Jared Leto fully dedicates himself to the unique character he plays, his first time on screen in almost 5 years.
The movie serves as a decent snapshot of a time when America was just beginning to feel the threat of the AIDS epidemic. It’s certainly not a feel-good movie but it is nice to watch one person overcome their homophobia and become more open-minded as he serves the greater good. It’s the top-notch acting that really make the film standout. This is the type of film that probably won’t receive an Oscar nomination for best picture but you can be sure that both McConaughey and Leto will be recognized for their performances.