Matthew McConaughey revitalized his career around 2012, and what a revitalization is has been. With his film Mud and HBO’s own True Detective, it appears the years of Matt doing crappy romantic comedies might be past us (I’m looking at you, Failure to Launch).
In Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey stars as Ron Woodruff, a rough around the edges electrician who likes drugs and promiscuous sex (a lot of promiscuous sex). After a workplace accident, Ron awakes in the hospital wherein he is told he has HIV. The time of the film is late 80s, when the knowledge of HIV and AIDS was growing as awareness of the disease spread.
Feeling this crippling weight after being told he has a month to live, he rebels. Not surprisingly, this course of action doesn’t work well and he ends up with full blown AIDS; after being told about the hit and miss of a medical trial, he seeks medical attention elsewhere. Learning more about the drugs on the market, Woodruff takes matters into his own entrepreneurial hands and begins selling memberships to those with HIV and AIDS in order for them to get helpful medical treatment. And by entrepreneurial, I mean illegal. This will eventually even lead to a lawsuit against the FDA in attempt to expose medications that don’t work being over-marketed by pharmaceutical companies. But Ron’s story has already had the ending penned by having AIDS, and he dies.
This movie is based on a true story. Ron Woodruff made waves and did a lot for people struggling with a disease in a time where stigma was rampant and drug trials were frustrating. Well okay, not much has changed in that regard.
I thought the movie was great, but also incredibly painful. The acting by Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Denis O’Hare, and Jennifer Garner is outstanding. It is no great shock that McConaughey has been cleaning up award shows for this one. Jared Leto is stunning in the supporting role. As Rayon, a transsexual male suffering through HIV and AIDS, he provides comedic relief and brings heart to the story. Particularly because at first Ron is very rough around the edges in dealing with homosexuals, and Rayon brings him around to be more open-minded. Jared Leto also makes a very pretty woman. I’m convinced he’s prettier as woman than me. He’s that pretty, people!
The pain of this film is watching people, even if they are only characters, suffer through a disease that so little is known about and one that has no cure. You watch these characters slowly deteriorate, knowing they are going to die. It makes you feel for any person who is knowingly facing their inevitable death. I’m not going to lie, SPOILER ALERT, I cried when Rayon died. Full-on, ugly tears. Because he knows it is coming and he’s scared, but there is nothing he can do. And it sucks. It really sucks watching anyone go through that.
This movie captures real people going through hell in a time when medicine didn’t have the right answer, and it is a beautiful tragedy to watch. If you are at all interested in Ron Woodruff’s story, or learning about the HIV and AIDS mania of the late 80s, or seeing a breathtaking approach to cinematography, or even seeing Jared Leto as a beautiful woman, then I suggest giving this movie a shot. It is well worth the two hours. It is pain, but it is a beautiful pain.
Dallas Buyers Club premieres on Saturday, 09.13 at 8:00pm ET. It will air throughout the month on HBO, HBO2 and HBO On Demand. It can also be found on HBOGO after the 13th.