Another week, another awards-contender.
This time it’s “Dallas Buyers Club,” a powerful film with impressive performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Based on a true story, the movie takes place in late ’80s Dallas in the early days of the AIDS crisis.
McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a Texas cowboy who loves drugs and sex and hates gays and authority. Thanks to his reckless lifestyle he is diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. Woodroof won’t take his death sentence lying down, instead he educates himself on his condition and all available drugs used to treat it.
Unfortunately most of the drugs and vitamins used to fight the disease are illegal in the United States. Woodroof goes to great lengths to acquire the medicines he needs, including traveling the world and bending/breaking laws everywhere he goes. Along the way he discovers many others in similar difficulties and decides to cash in, establishing a “buyers club” where people can pay a monthly membership fee and get the drugs for free.
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, “Dallas Buyers Club” offers a stark and compelling look into an important chapter in recent history. McConaughey, almost unrecognizable aside from the Texas twang in his voice, delivers the performance of his career. Woodroof isn’t a particularly likable — or good — man, especially in the early going. But as he progresses through the story his outlook and attitude changes as his body struggles to survive.
The film also boasts a terrific performance by Jared Leto as Rayon, a fellow patient who becomes Ron’s business partner. Jennifer Garner also does strong work as a doctor sympathetic to Woodroof’s cause.