Rental Review - Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club (2013), R, 117 minutes - Much like Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club is a story that is worth passing on to future generations.  While 1993's Philadelphia looked at AIDS from a legal rights point of view, Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story that looks at the disease through a different lens: one of a man just trying to survive.

Dallas, Texas, 1985 - Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is an electrician who oozes the manly man stereotype.  He loves sex, drugs, the rodeo, and is quick to run off a string of homophobic slurs if the opportunity presents itself.  After going to the hospital for a work related injury, he's informed that extensive testing shows he is HIV+ and has about 30 days to live.  He launches into a homophobic rant and proclaims that 'nothing can kill Ron Woodruff in 30 days!' disregarding the information that Dr. Sevard (Denis O'Hare) and Nurse Eve (Jennifer Garner) provided.  After a day or two, he settles down and goes to the library to research HIV/AIDS.  He is stunned when he comes across an article that lists intravenous drug use and unprotected sex as potential ways to contract the virus.  He continues his research, now focusing on potential treatments.  With a cooler and more educated head, he returns to the hospital to inquire about a number of potential drugs.  Eve informs him that many are either illegal in the United States or are only available in limited areas as they are being tested for FDA approval.  The most notable of which is AZT, but the test group for AZT in the Dallas area is already full and he is unable to get into the program.  After going on a bender and ending up in the hospital again, he meets Rayon (Jared Leto) a transvestite who is a part of the AZT trial group.  Rayon mentions selling half of his/her dosage to another infected friend in exchange for cash.  Ron offers to pay the same or more, but Rayon says he/she can't split the dosage any more or it wouldn't benefit anyone.  The idea launches Ron on a mission to acquire the drugs he needs in any way possible, even if that means crossing into Mexico and smuggling them back into the United States illegally.  In his efforts, he reads about buyers clubs in other states.  The buyers clubs are taking advantage of a legal loophole - they don't sell drugs directly, they sell a membership for a monthly fee and then dispense the drugs for free.  Knowing that he doesn't run in the proper social circles to fully take advantage of such an enterprise, Ron teams up with Rayon to begin a buyers club in the Dallas area.  Ron constantly researches the latest treatments and smuggles a number of drugs in from other countries that don't have such tight regulations.  Before he knows it, he has become a full on advocate, not only helping others acquire the treatments they need, but educating them about HIV/AIDS also.

Dallas Buyers Club is an excellent film with quite possibly the two best performances by actors this year.  McConaughey and Leto both lost a ridiculous amount of weight for these roles.  For McConaughey, it wasn't just the weight loss though, but a complete character transformation as the film progresses.  Not just physically, but as a person.  Leto's portrayal of Rayon really is amazing, especially the scene in which he/she dresses up in a suit in order to make his/her disapproving father feel more comfortable.

Dallas Buyers Club is a film that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good human interest story.  While Ron Woodruf may have made good money running his buyers club, his biggest concern was the well being of his members.  That's not something that you would have guessed from the man at the beginning of the film.  It's the kind of transformation that truly is inspiring.



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