Monday, December 02, 2013

“Dallas Buyers Club” – Movie Review



This past weekend, The Film Society Of Lincoln Center invited its members to a special screening of “Dallas Buyers Club” starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.


When a heterosexual man is diagnosed as HIV+, he organizes a scheme to get unauthorized medicine for himself and others – but when the FDA learns of his venture, how much longer can it continue?


Full-time electrician, part-time rodeo cowboy and lifelong scammer, Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) has dedicated his life to partying hard – between unprotected sex with multitudes of women, excessive alcohol and drug abuse, he’s pretty well run down his system. Unfortunately, his promiscuity has caused him to contract a sexually transmitted disease and in the early summer of 1985, he is officially diagnosed as being HIV Positive; in fact, his condition is so dire that physicians give him only a month to live and recommend he get his affairs in order well before then. Once word of his diagnosis gets out, he is ostracized by both acquaintances and co-workers.

Soon, Ron learns of a new “wonder drug” called AZT that is believed to be of significant help to patients who were either HIV+ or diagnosed with full AIDS. Unable to secure a prescription from a physician, he bribes a hospital employee to steal samples of the drug so he may use it himself. When the supply runs out, he is referred to a doctor in Mexico who can be easily convinced to write prescriptions of this nature. Upon meeting him, the doctor informs Ron that the side effects of AZT aren’t worth the alleged benefits, so he instead recommends a “cocktail” – a combination of various drugs and vitamins that will build up the patient’s immune system.

When Ron realizes that this cocktail could be used to help others who are similarly afflicted, he sees an opportunity to make a considerable amount of money; talking the doctor into entering a business arrangement, Ron smuggles a large amount of supplies into the United States and sells them to members of the gay community. Needing help in building his new-found business, he employs Rayon (Leto), a transgender woman also suffering from the disease. But when the United States government’s Food and Drug Administration becomes aware of Ron’s dealings, can they successfully shut him down and prevent patients from getting much-needed treatment?



Between “Bernie”, “Killer Joe” and “Mud”, actor Matthew McConaughey has had a rather impressive string of film performances over the past few years. It is therefore a pleasure to report that with “Dallas Buyers Club”, his winning streak continues. Likewise, co-star Jared Leto’s surprising and heartbreaking role as Rayon is equally amazing. With an increasing number of young people from The Millennial Generation coming into prominence, the importance of this movie cannot be overstated; “Dallas Buyers Club” serves as something of a history lesson for them about the state of the early days of the AIDS crisis, when The Millennials were either just children or not yet born.

Woodroof’s story is told quite cleverly; upon his initial diagnosis, he is advised he will only live another 30 days because his present condition as bad as it is will likely rapidly deteriorate. As a result, the director uses title cards to step us through each of those first 30 days – e.g., Day 1, Day 8, Day 27, etc. This is apparently done to not only emphasize how the physicians’ original prognosis was wrong, but also, to illustrate that with the right medicine in the correct dosage, some AIDS patients can find success in keeping their disease in check; while they may never completely have their old life back, they can at least survive.

Normally, I only review movies that haven’t as yet been released; “Dallas Buyers Club” has been out for a few weeks now. So why the review and why now? Well, for one thing, the film has been in only a limited release and just recently went into a wider release. For another thing, as I mentioned above, this was a special screening for Film Society members only – specifically, what made it special was the fact that the screening was followed by an interview and audience question-and-answer session with one of its stars, Jared Leto, who played Rayon.

Leto said that this movie took approximately 15 years to be made; in fact, he told us that he saw the script a few years ago and when it came his way again was surprised that the film was actually going to be made. According to Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” took 25 days to shoot. Although he didn’t formally audition for the motion picture, he said that when a conversation between himself and the director was scheduled, it was conducted over Skype because Leto was in Berlin at the time. During their Skype, Leto said he was able to convince him he was right for the role by wearing lipstick, a woman’s pink sweater and by engaging in a considerable amount of flirting (which Leto claims made the director a bit nervous).


Dallas Buyers Club (2013) on IMDb 8.0/103,288 votes


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