Dallas Buyers Club

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Dallas Buyers Club

When Texas rodeo cowboy and electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) wakes up in hospital with thirty days to live, he’s not happy. As a (generally) straight non-junkie, HIV is not something he’s supposed to have in 1985. His friends promptly shun him and trash his house. The treatment available does nothing. So he does what a hustler does – he pays an orderly to steal him a supply of AZT, a drug that, maybe, might help.
Increasingly desperate, Woodroof ends up in Mexico trying to score AZT, only to end up in a clinic where they dose him up with a range of drugs currently illegal in the US. This time the drugs work, and once he’s back on his feet Woodroof figures out there’s money to be made selling this particular off-brand approach to AIDS patients back in the US.
Reluctantly teaming up with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender woman who’s also HIV positive and who has the contacts he needs, Woodroof sets up a ‘Buyer’s Club’ to get around the fact that selling these non-Food and Drug Administration approved drugs and supplements is illegal – once you pay $400 a month for membership of the club, you get all the drugs you want for free. The FDA doesn’t like the way their regulations are being avoided, and every time they manage to interrupt the supply Woodroof, Rayon and their clients get sicker.
This is basically a traditional disease-of-the-week weepy that tells its story by the numbers. Fortunately you can’t build a movie out of shocking weight loss alone, and McConaughey deploys his usual southern charm to curdled effect for much of the film, while Leto’s transformation is perhaps even more effective because it’s less obvious.
Making a film about AIDS in the ’80s with a straight lead who’s taught to see beyond his prejudices by a transsexual woman could have (and occasionally still does) comes across as pandering: it’s the strength of McConaughey and Leto’s work that makes this worth a look.
Written by Anthony Morris