Dallas Buyers Club is based on the real-life story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof. The film portrays him as a homophobe and a man who loves his vices: he enjoys his alcohol, drugs (cocaine mostly) and casual sexual escapades. But never did Ron think the consequences for his behavior would be as severe as he’s told in 1985. While in the hospital for a work-related injury the doctors inform him that he has tested positive for HIV and that he has just 30 days left to live. Woodroof is outraged: he considers the HIV virus something only queers catch, so Ron’s reaction is “I’m no faggot, motherfucker.”
It’s a testament to Matthew McConaughey’s acting prowess that he manages to make Ron Woodroof such a captivating and even likeable character. Ron’s not only irresponsible and close-minded, but also only out for himself. When he manages to find effective medicine he dreams up the Dallas Buyers Club, a subscription model to make some money off of HIV. For 400 dollars a month members get access to effective FDA-unapproved drugs that Woodroof smuggles into the US. He’s “not running a goddamn charity” and for a while money seems to be the only thing he wants and gets out of this venture. But despite all of the character’s bluntness and single-mindedness McConaughey portrays Woodroof as a man of flesh and blood, a man who didn’t think ahead or revaluated his life and values until he had to, a man struggling for survival. Ron really changes quite drastically throughout the course of the film, but McConaughey makes you believe and feel every beat. His acting is subtle and complete, it draws you in and makes you invest in a man you normally wouldn’t feel any sympathy for.
It’s not only McConaughey who delivers a riveting performance. Jared Leto is just as enthralling as Rayon, a male transvestite Woodroof meets in the hospital and partners up with. It’s Rayon who’s responsible for much of Ron’s change of heart and the dynamic between the two characters and actors is a joy to watch. Jennifer Garner also does fine work as Eve, a nurse working at the hospital Ron and Rayon frequent. Eve’s a woman torn between following the rules handed down to her and giving her patients the help they actually need. Garner makes her a vulnerable and warm character.
Other than the acting Dallas Buyers Club is worth seeing for its story and the part of history the film’s about. It offers insight into the perception of AIDS in the 80’s and the workings of the farmaceutical industry. Other than that Dallas Buyers Club is just downright moving, beautifully shot and one of 2013’s best movies, rightfully nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. 9/10