Most dramas that are based on a true story and made to inspire its audiences usually entail some form of emotional storyline that may bring some people to tears. Well, not this one. Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, took a different approach to delivering its grim plot by telling an inspirational story that highlights defiance yet contains some much appreciated humor. The Oscar nominated film deserves attention for not only reaching out of its comfort zone, but for bringing the attention to a heart-warming true story.
Dallas Buyers Club is loosely based on the life of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a womanizing, hard-partying, drug loving homophobic man who, in 1985, was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and given only thirty days to live. With a fast approaching death sentence haunting him, Woodroof begins anxiously searching for meds that would extend, or save, his life. After aggressively taking the FDA approved AZT, he discovers that it’s been doing more harm than good and decides to start smuggling non-toxic anti-viral medications that are still illegal in the United States. With some help from his business partner Rayon (Jared Leto), a self-destructive poignant transgender woman, Ron helps the gay community by creating the Dallas Buyers Club to provide its paying members with his smuggled treatments. The screenplay, by Craig Bolten and Melissa Wallack, changes things up by staying away from dark, upsetting moments and opting for a more inspiring approach that demonstrates Ron’s growth as a human being. Even with a drip attached to his arm as he physically wastes away, his determination drives him to fight for not only his life and well-being, but for those of the members of the gay community who he previously wouldn’t have given the time of day to.
Matthew McConaughey has come a long way since his goofy romantic comedy days and has proven once again that he’s capable of highly credible performances. His role as Ron has earned him his first Oscar nomination for best dramatic actor and although I don’t necessarily think it’s his best film (have you not seen Mud?!), he definitely deserves the high praise for his best performance yet. His charisma allowed the audience to see a more triumphant side to a character whose life’s circumstances don’t give him much reason to show any optimism. Jared Leto’s portrayal of Rayon has also earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor and has already won him a Golden Globe. He did a great job in transforming himself into a character whose mess of contradictions won the audience’s hearts over. Although both actors sacrificed a lot as they shed an incredible amount of weight to portray the heavy effects of the disease on their characters, it’s safe to say they both gave the performances of their careers.
The film’s attempt at a potential romance between Woodroof and a kind, compassionate doctor, Eve (Jennifer Garner), seemed slightly half-hearted. Their relationship (if I should even call it that) went nowhere in particular which made it seem like the film-makers added this story just for the sake of having a romantic sub-plot. Regardless, the uplifting approach that the film-makers of Dallas Buyers Club took to tell a depressing story dealing with death is very much appreciated. This film, undoubtedly, is a film about battles. Ron was determined to be the underdog that fought against all odds. Not only did he have to come to terms with his illness, but he also had to negotiate with the medical field while at the same time overcoming, and leaving behind his homophobic views. I look forward to watching Dallas Buyers Club, along with its actors, win the Oscars they deserve.
Montclair State | New Jersey