In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.
Directed: Jean-Marc Vallée
What we think: All the hype surrounding Dallas Buyers Club has been focused on the individual performances of it’s leading cast, but director Jean-Marc Vallée deserves considerable recognition for so skillfully crafting this tale of exceptional warmth, humour and eternal hope.
Ron Woodroof is a hustling, homophobic, bull-riding, womanising, sometimes-electrician, whose life revolves around excess drugs, alcohol and female copulation. But after a freak accident leads to doctors discovering he’s HIV positive, Ron is forced to re-examine his priorities.
With his hillbilly friends shunning him and the back-alley supply of the drug that could prolong his life cut off, Woodroof heads across the border to Mexico in search of alternative treatments. When he realises that the medication he’s given isn’t available in the US, he seizes the opportunity to make a quick buck.
Along the way he encounters fellow AIDS sufferer and cross-dresser Rayon (Leto) with whom he strikes an unlikely partnership in forming the Dallas Buyers Club, as well as Dr. Eve Saks (Garner) who becomes increasingly sympathetic to his plight.
McConaughey’s extreme physical transformation for the lead role is in itself worthy of great praise and his Oscar-winning turn is one of outstanding range and capability, portraying all the raw emotions Woodroof is forced to conflict as the character himself is changed irrevocably throughout the film’s two hour duration.
The scenes shared by Rayon – another remarkable performance from Leto – and Woodruff are triumphant and their relationship continually brings light relief to a backdrop of struggle as The Dallas Buyers Club fights what always seems like a losing battle with the FDA.
Much like Philadelphia, this film highlights the many struggles and injustices faced by early AIDS sufferers, not just in getting the medication they needed to survive, but also the prejudices they were forced to endure. It’s an exceptional piece of cinema that everyone should take the time to see.
Review: Thomas Baugh
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