This film should have been a smile through the pain schmaltz fests but instead is a moving portrayal of the rise of AIDS and sticking it to the man. Originating from a newspaper piece about Ron Woodroof Jean-Marc Vallée’s, the movie has rightfully took the awards scene by storm, but the Dallas Buyers Club is a film that took nearly twenty years to make.
Mcconaughey’s Texas electrician Woodroof is a horrifying character, a bigoted, arrogant ladies’ man who is never played for sympathy but as the audience we know he is real. The opening shows Ron getting it on with two groupies, rodeo bull riding before he finds himself positive for HIV. Denis O’Hare and Jennifer Garner have nowhere to go as well-spoken doctors who give him thirty days (the illness was so under researched that it was called GRID, Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease).
In hospital Ron meets Rayon (played by a scene stealing Jared Leto), a transvestite AIDS sufferer who gets a cut of profits when Ron starts peddling drugs to other sufferers.
Unusually, Ron’s character never really gets the Hollywood redemption, he may learn empathy as his former drinking buddies start throwing homophonic slurs at him and there is a great scene where he forces an ex-friend to shake Rayon’s hand but he never truly gets the Hollywood hero make over.
This is not a film about the illness but instead about overcoming social stigma and rebelling against the medical establishment. This film doesn’t let you forget the tragic enormity of the situation but it also doesn’t wallow in it. Dallas Buyers Club could be rawer, harsher and scarier, but somehow even without those elements, you still walk away with something from this movie.
This is arguably Matthew McConaughey’s career defining performance (with the actor dropping 47 pounds for his role), but the film belongs to Jared Leto. As a A loveable survivor, the 30 Seconds To Mars frontman is rail thin and sassy, and he brings emotion, not cliché’s to the role.
Dallas Buyers Club is out this Friday (7th Feb)