Dallas Buyers Club is a brilliant film. Jean-Marc Vallée has made a simple and poignant film about a true story. The story of Ron Woodruff, played by Matthew McConaughey, a man who is diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s. The movie takes you on a journey of survival by any means. You get caught up in Ron’s struggle as he tries whatever medicine is available, at that time, in order to survive. During that era, the HIV stigma and the mortality rate of AIDS meant that once diagnosed, you were effectively the walking dead. In the film, we get to see that. With a marvelous performance from Matthew McConaughey and a brilliant performance from Jared Leto, who plays a transgender named Rayon, this film reminds us of the very human trait of survival.
The film takes place in Texas, during a different time. A time when being HIV+ meant that you were a homosexual and therefore shunned. During the ’80s, being diagnosed with HIV+ was a death sentence. The disease wasn’t understood then and neither were the causes of transmission. Into this mess, Ron Woodruff is dropped. He comes off at first as a homophobic redneck who smokes, does drugs and is into unprotected sex. He doesn’t have a clue as to what ails him. One fine day, after suffering a work-related injury, he ends up in a hospital. The doctors have diagnosed him with HIV+, Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When faced with this diagnosis, he freaks out. Thus begins his struggle to survive. In the midst of this, he meets Rayon. Played by Jared Leto, Rayon is a transexual who is also suffering from HIV. They both are such polar opposites. As the film goes on, Ron gets AIDS, and he is still trying to get his hands on life-saving medication. In order to circumvent the FDA (Food and Drug Adminstration), he begins to smuggle unapproved drugs in order to live. Ron and Rayon start a business venture called the “Dallas Buyers Club” where a one time membership fee, enables a person to get his/her hands on medication. There are times when Ron squares off against the U.S. Government in order to keep the flow of the drugs going. In the end, it’s about one man’s struggle to live, and his right to continue living by any means necessary.
Matthew McConaughey is brilliant in this film. He makes you believe in the struggles of Ron Woodruff. He has gotten into the skin of the character and in doing so, given it life. You can understand his motivations, his desires, his fear of dying and his acceptance of his own fate. Jared Leto is sublime as Rayon. With simple make-up and a wig, he transforms himself into this lovely character. The movie tells a story that most of us haven’t heard in a long while. What kind of life do people with HIV lead? How were they going to survive? After you are told that your days are numbered, what would you do? These are some of the questions that this film tackles. You could argue that this movie is about drugs and how people would go to any lengths to get them. That is true in part, however this movie also tells the story of how lives were lost due to greedy pharmaceutical companies and doctors who had to follow protocol. This was a mystery disease that killed people and had spread like an epidemic. You get your eyes opened to that fact. Jean-Marc Vallée has made a brilliant movie. Jennifer Garner also acts in this film, but the real reasons to watch the movie are Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. They are amazing.
Why you should watch this film?
This is true story of one man. He was diagnosed with HIV and then AIDS. It’s about him and millions like him. This film isn’t about sexual orientation or identification. It’s about our basic human right and need to survive. Ron Woodruff did what he had to in order to survive. In his struggle, we can identify ourselves. Everyone should watch this film as it has weight and value. We must learn about the dark times of our society, if we are to move into a brighter future. A future which is free of hate and bigotry and a future filled with hope.