Title: Dallas Buyers Club
By: Voltage Pictures
Seen on: February 21
Dramatic weight loss is usually almost synonym with winning lots of awards, but both Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey deserve so much more credit than that for their Oscar (and Golden Globe, and SAG Awards, etc) wins. Their performances in this film are stunning.
Matthew McConaughey play Ron Woodruff, a homophobic cowboy from Dallas. When he gets diagnosed with HIV, and subsequently develops AIDS, he comes up with the Dallas Buyers Club. What starts as a major freak-out over “not gay”, “faggot’s disease”, etc, quickly becomes a quest to save his life. What I really, really like about that journey and character development, is how truthful and believable the filmmakers did it. He doesn’t change overnight, or completely even. Even when he’s teamed up with Rayon (Jared Leto’s character, a transgendered man), he still spouts homophobic bullshit. But that’s what makes him more honest and real.
Speaking of Rayon, Jared Leto does a brilliant job bringing this character to life. He does it with class and style, and it never becomes a parody or a caricature. Rayon is a transgendered man (“Raymond”) with HIV, who becomes Ron’s unlikely ally and partner in the Dallas Buyers Club. She somehow manages to show Ron that HIV is not the ” prerogative ” of gay men, and that not all gay, bi, or trans men are dirty and disgusting and animals. She shows him they are human, just like him. She is kind and sarcastic and tragically doomed.
The Dallas Buyers Club is based on a real story. And not the way just about every other film is based on a real story. This was and is very real. In the 80s, during the height of the AIDS crisis, these “clubs” were invented because the US FDA was not only at a loss as to how to handle the situation, but they allowed bad drugs into the hospitals because of money, not because of the people being treated. getting new drugs, drugs that actually were proven to work abroad, was difficult through the legal channels, so people started setting up illegal import routes and made them into a business model of clubs, not selling drugs but memberships. Unfortunately, the situation with the FDA hasn’t improved much when it comes to developing new drugs and getting them to the people that need them fast…
There are many touching and beautiful moments in the film. The scene where Ron and Rayon meet. The scene where Rayon goes to her father as Raymond to ask for help. Ron standing up for Rayon in public. The hug between Ron and Rayon. Rayon’s attack and hospitalization. Ron’s breakdown when he is too late to be with Rayon when she dies. Every one of them is magnificent and heartbreaking and a joy to watch.
Dallas Buyers Club is not a fun film, it’s not something you put on when you feel in the mood for a film on a Sunday afternoon. It is a stunning film with a sad, but touching feeling that leaves you with melancholy and a lot to think about. Which is the best kind of film, if you ask me!