Dallas Buyers Club is a film that takes place from the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s dealing with the AIDS epidemic. The film tells the story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic electrician and bull rider. He is diagnosed with AIDS and quickly finds his life falling apart. Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) tells him about AZT, a drug said to extend the life of AIDS patients – however, the drug is in the trials phase so only half the patients get it while the rest receive a placebo.
He quickly gets his hands on AZT, but the drug seems to have no effect and he winds up the hospital again. There he meets Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender woman with HIV. Ron then travels to Mexico seeking more AZT and meets Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne), who tells him that AZT is no good and prescribes him legal but unapproved drugs and proteins. Ron then realizes that he can make money by importing the non-illegal drugs and starts selling them to HIV-positive patients with the help of Rayon.
This film is truly carried by the performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Matthew McConaughey has had an incredible couple of years after finally stepping out of the romantic comedy genre and trying new things. The film also marks the return of Jared Leto from his four year acting hiatus. Both roles can be described as transformative, McConaughey lost almost 50 pounds to play the role and Leto…..well, he’s playing a transgender woman. Through McConaughey, we see a man with undeniable passion that will do all he can to survive and escape his foreseeable death. Jared Leto does a great job as Rayon, Ron’s transgender friend. They don’t start as friends, but once they start working together they become closer. The film does a great job showing Ron slowly become less homophobic as the film goes on. Leto doesn’t have a large amount of screen time, yet he’s extremely memorable and leaves a lasting impression. Jennifer Garner does a decent job in the film, but she is completely overshadowed by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. The performances in this film have generated a lot of Oscar buzz and I won’t be surprised to see McConaughey and Leto take both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively – although, I think McConaughey’s best performance is in the TV show True Detective.
Dallas Buyers Club is a great film with some really great performances. The pacing is very slow at times, but it’s definitely worth the watch. I don’t think it will win best film or anything, but it’s a solid story of survival.