Dallas 1985. Electrician and sometimes rodeo bull rider Ron Woodroof lives hard, which includes heavy smoking, drinking, drug use (primarily cocaine) and casual sex. He is a stereotypical redneck: racist and homophobic. While in the hospital on a work related injury, the doctors discover and inform him that he is HIV+, and that he will most-likely die within thirty days. Ron is initially in angry denial that he would have a disease that only “faggots” have, but upon quick reflection comes to the realization that the diagnosis is probably true. He begins to read whatever research is available about the disease, which at this time seems to be most effectively treated by the drug AZT. AZT, however, is only in the clinical trials stage within the US. Incredulous that he, as a dying man, cannot pay for any drug which may save or at least prolong his life, he goes searching for it by whatever means possible.
“I swear it, Ray, God sure was dressin’ the wrong doll
when he blessed you with a set of balls.”
I admit. Everyone will probably repeat this infinitely times. The acting of Matthew McConaughey is irrefutable top level. I’ll do it just one more time … the acting of Matthew McConaughey is top level ! In “The Lincoln Lawyer ” he played an average role as a lawyer who uses his Lincoln as an office. But there surely was a sign of sheer acting talent in the movie “Mud“. “Mud” isn’t an average movie. You like it or you hate it. But it it does show that he isn’t an ordinary actor. The metamorphosis in “Dallas Buyers Club” is even more spectacular. Physically it must have been quite a sacrifice in order to lose that much weight. The image of him lying in the hospital next to Rayon and his hospital pajamas reveal a skinny leg, is shocking at the time. How he plays that hotheaded Woodroof sometimes, is really a joy to watch. With that Texas accent he talks like a cheeky rascal and a few moments later it sounds flattering and seductive. He likes to taste the pleasures of life : Sex , Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll. I must admit I hardly recognized him at the beginning with that big mustache, those big glasses, the stetson on his head and that skinny body. The moment they told him in the hospital he had AIDS was memorable. The way he reacts is a perfect display of how a heterosexual person would react that never used hard drugs. He denies it completely and rejects the assumption to have AIDS. Instead, he returns to his camper and organizes with his drinking buddies a wild orgy with lots of booze, cocaine and willing rodeo ladies.
Jared Leto plays the role of Rayon brilliantly. A transvestite who tries to bound with Ron, but gets taunted by the latter in a humiliating way. The moment Rons friends turn their backs at him (also an impressive fragment) and they avoid him like he’s a leper, is the point he starts tolerating Rayon, although he keeps making teasing remarks. Leto was convincing as an addicted but attractive transvestite.
During the whole movie there is an interaction between dramatic and humorous moments. There is the monopolizing role of the FDA in terms of legalized medication. They focus more on the profit margins and seem to forget about the effective healing effects of certain medications. You can enjoy the humor both in conversations as in certain situations that arise. The bond of friendship that develops gradually between Ron and Rayon is the main storyline.
Frankly, it was hugely entertaining until the club was founded. From there it was a little less interesting and actually more of a boring presentation of Ron who travels the world looking for suppliers and new drug cocktails. And again a fight against the FDA while Ron gradually degenerates (although this isn’t actually shown explicitly). A strong,humorous and touching start that significantly begins to captivate to the end. Personally I think the role of Eve by Jennifer Garner was a minimal contribution to the whole. The doctor in Mexico was, compared to her, a more interesting character role.
In “Philadelphia” the movie got weaker the moment the cliche court scenes were introduced. In this movie it’s the constant fight against a government agency such as the FDA which begins to irritate. But despite that, it’s a hell of a movie, with two excellent performances done by two excellent actors.