Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey) is a hard living, hard working and hard playing electrician who loves a party, a drink and a really good time. His days are spent in a drink and drug effected haze, often in the company of any woman he can find. His hard living is having an effect on his body, but he puts up with it for a while – then he can no longer ignore the effects and collapses. He wakes up in hospital to be told he’s contracted the HIV virus. This is 1985 and HIV/AIDS is very new in the community – Ron is horrified and incredulous at this diagnosis – “it’s gotta be a mistake, right? – I’m no faggot …”. Suddenly the real impact of his womanizing and drug fuelled lifestyle hits home and he realises it’s really true. Given 30 days to live, he steels himself that he will absolutely fight this at every step – including anything or anyone that gets in his way. He is suspicious of the formal medical regime so he starts to organise his own drugs – nothing to lose, right?. His medical professionals, Dr Sevard (by Denis O’Hare) and Dr Eve Saks (by Jennifer Garner) are against this as it totally defies conventional treatment and research has not yet evidenced that contrary treatment is any better. In Mexico, he meets American physician Doctor Vass (by Griffin Dunne), whose US license has been revoked after he offered AIDS treatments against US regulations. Ron starts to smuggle non-approved drugs into the US, at first for his own use but soon for sale to other HIV+ people. Pretty soon, Ron’s self-designed drug therapy shows results, then other sufferers hear about what he’s doing – and his reputation spreads. He meets fellow AIDS sufferer Rayon (by Jared Leto) and they start a business to get the drugs to the “members” of their new Dallas Buyers Club. The authorities are horrified and do everything they can to stop Ron’s activities, regardless of the positive outcomes he may be getting ….
This movie is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof and his actions, just to do what’s right – first for himself, then for many others. It is horrifying in its depiction of the utter ignorance (in the sense that they are unaware) and slowness of the authorities in dealing with the entire HIV issue and the ethics of associated medical research trials to find a treatment. In their blindness, the authorities actually try to deter Ron’s actions when his drug regime is demonstrating clear success. It’s also jaw-dropping to watch (and remember) the reaction of Ron’s “friends” when they find out he has the HIV virus and AIDS. As the two key characters, McConaughey and Leto contibute very strong performances – no surprise they were both awarded with Academy Awards (Oscars), Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards for their work. Matthew McConaughey is almost unrecognisable as Ron, particularly where the disease has ravaged his body; and Jared Leto is sublime as Rayon. Jennifer Garner’s key role as Eve Saks is about her professionalism, morals and ethics – it’s a strong role. I am interested and pleased to see Dallas Roberts here too, as I am more used to his peformances as Owen in the television series “The Good Wife”. The cinematography reflects the chaotic nature of Ron’s thoughts and his life in general and some scenes are graphic. It’s a good film.
Made in 2014. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée