Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Dare to Live

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Biography, Drama, History
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dallas_buyers_clup_posterLiving the life of a bull rider and electrician, Ron Woodroof is in for the shock of his life after a work-related accident sends him to the hospital where the doctors discover that he has had HIV/AIDS. Unable to accept his situation, he storms out of the hospital and tries to connect back up with his friends, only to be shunned for his medical news. Desperately seeking a way to get AZT, he cuts a deal with a janitor at the hospital to steal it for him. When the opportunity runs dry, he travels to Mexico to meet with an unlicensed doctor and sets up an opportunity to bring back vitamins, supplements, and other non-toxic medications to sell to AIDS patients. While he struggles initially, he runs into a patient he met in the hospital and begins to do business together. As the demand begins to expand, Ron reorganizes the business into a membership club with unlimited access to the medicine to treat the symptoms better than AZT.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey (Ron Woodroof), Jennifer Garner (Eve), Jared Leto (Rayon), Denis O’Hare (Dr. Sevard), Steve Zahn (Tucker), Michael O’Neill (Richard Barkley), Dallas Roberts (David Wayne), Griffin Dunne (Dr. Vaas), Kevin Rankin (TJ), Donna Duplantier (Nurse Frazin), Deneen Tyler (Denise)

This film required a lot from its lead actors, particularly of McConaughey and Leto. Both men had to fast and lose weight to fit their roles. For McConaughey, his character was complex and truly engaging to watch. He started the film as a vile, lustful womanizer and showed excellent struggle with being shunned and challenged at every turn. For Leto, his character exhibited fallacies that were completely offset by his charm. Garner faded a bit into the background until later in the film, where she stepped up the drama between the law and McConaughey’s character’s mission.

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Jean-Marc Vallee directed a raw, emotional film following the life of Ron Woodroof and his battle against AIDS and the restrictiveness of the FDA. While Ron was not a complicated man prior to his diagnosis, he broke free of his initial disbelief of his fate and began to research his situation. Seeking involvement in the AZT drug trial, he was willing to use any means necessary to preserve his life. Unfortunately, he was unaware that the concentration of the toxins in the AZT was a deadly cocktail with his alcohol and drug abuse. His trip to Mexico was a fruitful one, as he quickly learned about the restrictiveness of the FDA and the troubles he would face to get his medicine back into the states. Ron chose to push forth with his plan anyway and continued to fight against the FDA.

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The other significant element of the film was the combination of the portrayal of AIDS on the main characters and how their relationships evolved through the process. Ron was a bigot throughout the majority of his life, but was significantly resistant of Rayon from the moment they met. While he continued to keep Rayon at arm’s length, he slowly warmed up to him and went into business together. Ron was against the entire concept of diverse sexual orientations at the start but saw the human side of the effects of the disease. He realized that gay men and women were suffering the same way he was. It slowly changed his business practices, which were focused on profit at the start and transformed into truly wanting to help people.

The transformations in this film are quite stellar. McConaughey and Leto became their characters and brought these challenging lives to the big screen in a big way.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

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