Here is why Dallas Buyers Club is getting all those awards and nominations: it’s a basically true story of a Texas cowboy and electrician named Ron Woodroof who is a homophobic, womanizing, substance-abusing schmuck who discovers he has AIDS, and apparently, just thirty days to live. The viewer goes from repulsion at his antics to admiration and affection for his intelligence and even compassion.
Ron is portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, an actor I had always associated with romantic comedies I didn’t bother to see, until this decade, when he has been doing more substantial work. I really liked him as the district attorney in Bernie (2011).
Ron goes to the hospital and meets Rayon (played by Jared Leto, also worthily Oscar-nominated) who is an HIV-positive transgender woman. Mutual disdain occurs. When Ron’s health worsens, he drives to Mexico to get more AZT, after a batch he had purloined ran out. He meets Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne) an American with his medical license revoked, who tells Ron that AZT is “poisonous”, and prescribes proteins and vitamins, which end up improving Ron’s health.
Three months later, Ron finds his health much improved. It occurs to him that he could make money by importing the drugs and selling them to other HIV-positive patients… Meanwhile, Dr. Eve Saks [Jennifer Garner] also begins to notice the negative effects of AZT, but is told by her supervisor Dr. Sevard (Denis O’Hare) that [the medical trial] cannot be discontinued.
And Ron and Rayon become unlikely business partners.
I didn’t even get into the physical transformation of McConaughey, in which he lost 47 pounds in four months. You may enjoy reading a brief story of the real Ron Woodroof (not Woodruff, as written here). And read some stellar reviews of the movie in Rotten Tomatoes, 93% positive as of this writing.
Of course, I saw this at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, unfortunately alone because we couldn’t get a child sitter.