Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan who begins smuggling prescription drugs into the US when he is diagnosed with HIV and finds that the medication he is receiving is not helping. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Woodroof, Jared Leto as his saucy business partner Rayon, and Jennifer Garner Dr. Eve Saks, his compassionate doctor.
It’s 1985. Ron Woodroof is an electrician and bull rider in Dallas, TX. He’s a homophobe, a drug addict, and a man who’s eager to sleep with any woman who’s willing. After living recklessly for quite some time, Woodroof is diagnosed with HIV and told he only has 30 days to live. Soon he becomes aware of his day to day existence – transforming his intense energy into something positive and powerful. When he discovers that AZT, the first HIV medication approved by the FDA, is actually hurting his body rather than helping, Ron establishes the Dallas Buyers Club, selling memberships in exchange for unapproved HIV/AIDS medication. Quickly, he develops into a savvy businessman, but one who’s driven by logic rather than profit. For Ron, selling the drugs is about doing what’s right – and he’s completely willing to do whatever it takes in order to provide individuals with the proper care they deserve. As he transforms from a homophobic slacker to a world traveler with a transgender business partner, it’s difficult not to look up to Woodroof’s ability to grow and develop immensely, while suffering through something as horrific as AIDs.
As wonderful as Woodroof’s story is, what seems to make Dallas Buyers Club a truly magnificent film is the superb performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Both actors lost significant amounts weight for their roles, making complete physical transformations. But beyond their physical manifestation of their characters, McConaughey and Leto dive into the turbulent psychological worlds of Ron and Rayon, executing their imperfections and quirks nearly flawlessly. Though Jennifer Gardner’s performance has been overlooked, her portrayal of Dr. Eve Saks is understated and charming.
One of this years must see films, I give Dallas Buyers Club four out of five stars.
Dallas Buyers Club is currently playing in theaters across the US.
You can read the 1992 article on Ron Woodroof from The Dallas Morning News by Bill Minutaglio here.