Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013)
Jean-Marc Vallée directs the Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) biopic of which is largely inspired on his true life story of creating a buyer’s club in the Dallas, Texas area during the heart of the AIDS panic in 1985. Woodroof, a homophobic and drug-addicted, cowboy becomes immersed in the world of HIV and AIDs when he is to his surprise diagnosed with HIV. During the 1980’s, HIV was seen largely as a homosexual STD. If you contracted the disease then to many you must be gay. Woodroof is given 30 days to live. Outcast by his “friends” and coworkers, Woodroof seeks a remedy to his disease. Woodroof’s descent into despair over his condition is quickly remedied by his incessant passion to better patients neglected by government officials.
When the local hospital refuses to administer AZT (a drug thought to offer relief to HIV patients) to Woodroof, he begins to seek alternative medicines. He soon learns that AZT was a counterintuitive drug that would have aided in his death. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are largely seen as administrators controlled by greed and profit margins.
Woodroof teams up with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgendered HIV patient. The two begin a buyer’s club which instead of selling drugs for money, they offer a membership in which members pay $400 a month to unlimited medical supplies.
McConaughey provides one of his best performances and will likely garner an Oscar nomination. The grit and fierceness exhibited by McConaughey carries the movie even through its lull periods. Likewise, Leto’s portrayal of a transgendered woman was believable and pretty darn good. He is likely the front-runner to win an Oscar for Actor in a Supporting Role. There are many aspects I found endearing and insightful. I had never heard of such a buyer’s club. The director’s choice to use natural lighting provided a much appreciated realism.
Conversely, I was disappointed by the one-dimensional antagonists. A bit more insight in the brain works of the FDA officials would have been illuminating. Although of course the director could have decided to make an artistic interpretation that they acted as one and were absent of individual thought. Additionally, while Ron Woodroof rightfully garners the bulk of the airtime I would have loved to delve more into the daily plights of HIV patients. The movie is entirely from his perspective. The director had the opportune opportunity to investigate, deeper into major, thematic issues but instead decided to only graze at the surface.
Overall, while the film did not meet the wildly high expectations I formed because of the high praise for McConaughey and Leto it certainly warrants a viewing at the theaters. While the acting was very well accomplished in the film, I was struck more about the life of Woodroof. The last segment of his life was pretty extraordinary and for that I am pleased I saw this movie and now know of his mark in history.
Running Time: 117 minutes
MPAA rating: R (strong language, sexual content, nudity and drug use)
My Grade: B
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