What’s most striking about director Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is the way AIDS is depicted. From the moment Ron Woodroff is told he has terminal AIDS and thirty days left to wrap up his affairs, his life is literally running down on a timer, and he’s literally scrambling back and forth for a way to preserve it. And what begins as a means of self-preservation transforms in to a very eye opening exploration of the world and how AIDS is a very unbiased disease that isn’t restricted to the homosexual community that it’s been used to demonize for many years.
Matthew McConaughey gives a surprisingly remarkable performance as Ron, a very aggressively alienating man whose life is built around his machismo and being very set in his ways involving sex, booze, and rodeos. After health issues involving fainting and a seemingly endless hacking cough send him to the hospital, Ron discovers he has Terminal AIDS and has less than a month to live. Deciding to write off the death sentence, Ron soon garners an eye opening reality check, and snaps in to action to control his illness and prevent his immediate death. Considering the time period in which Ron is diagnosed, Ron’s story is one filled with a lot of death, and even more hatred.
What becomes the more ironic twist is that Ron begins to find hatred and prejudice from his oldest friends and confidants when they become convinced his AIDS is a sign of homosexuality. The lack of education and their sheer ignorance works against Ron’s favor, as he battles the illness alone and races to find the best remedy that can grant him an extension. McConaughey is perfectly capable of conveying the desperation from Ron, who spends the entirety of his life educating himself and seeking new ways to undercut the US government in acquiring the necessary medications to fight AIDS. Ron’s introduction to transgendered Rayon is also something of an enlightening experience, as the pair form an uneasy deal to help each other survive. Jared Leto steals the entire film with his performance as the tortured and long suffering AIDS patient who’s used much of his own connections and life savings to try for one last chance at a longer life.
The pair build an illegal business supplying medication to AIDS sufferers, all the while trying to battle their own personal demons that make them their own worst enemies, particularly in Rayon whose own self loathing keep her from trying to battle the disease that’s rotting her from the inside. Jennifer Garner is especially good as the well meaning Dr. Eve Saks who chases after Ron and Rayon hoping to help them battle AIDS safely and legally, and can only watch them take their lives in to their own hands for better or worse. “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is a fantastic drama with a slew of excellent performances, and is a still very relevant exploration of an epidemic that’s taken far too many.