Review Of Dallas Buyers Club
It’s a wonder why Dallas Buyers Club took more than two decades to get off the ground. Released in 2013 with Matthew McConaughey’s and Jared Leto’s best performances as actors yet, now the movie soars. Movie columnist and critic Steven Rea says,
“Dallas Buyers Club is a movie about an improbable hero, fighting the medical establishment, fighting the FDA, fighting for his life. He’s a con artist, a snake-charmer, working the angles with a wily grin. But he’s also on a journey of self-discovery, learning to embrace humanity in all its shapes and sizes, colors and proclivities.”
Dallas Buyers Club has been in the works since the early 1990s and was turned down 137 times by studios and financiers before making it to the big screen. Set in 1985, he biographical film has cemented its place among the best films of the decade not only because of the historical authenticity with which it captures the first few months of the AIDS epidemic in America, but because of its emotional vigor. McConaughey plays alcoholic cowboy and homophobic electrician Ron Woodroof, who also happens to have AIDS.
Dallas Buyers Club reminds us that heroes come in many forms, and that friendship knows no limits. Sometimes the people we end up holding dearest are the ones we never expected to come our way at all. The movie, although about dying AIDS patients, is ultimately about rebirth: the rebirth of a homophobic man who learns to embrace what he was once afraid of. Dallas Buyers Club pushes us to recognize the beauty in appreciating people and cultures different from ourselves.
How did McConaughey master the role of Woodroof so well? Beyond his sheer acting talent, McConaughey, a Texas native himself, related to Woodroof. In an interview for Roger Ebert, McConaughey said,
“Ron Woodroof and his clan? These wonderful rednecks? They weren’t my immediate friends, but I know those people. I know that language, I know that perspective, I know that anarchic humor. And, you know, one of things I wanted to make sure about this is to stick with that anarchic humor, stick with him being a selfish bastard, stick with him being a business man out for himself.”
To treat his symptoms, Woodroof began using unapproved pharmaceutical drugs. He finds the drugs effective, and begins smuggling them into Texas to distribute to fellow AIDS patients through an establishment he calls the “Dallas Buyers Club.” Even though he is helping save the sufferers’ lives, the Food and Drug Administration constantly tries to shut the club down.
A month before the real Woodroof died in September 1992, journalist Bill Minutaglio spent hours interviewing Woodroof for a newspaper story. Screenwriters quickly picked up on the tale, and would seek Woodroof out to interview him themselves. Over the next two decades, the film would have ten different scripts. In 2008, McConaughey found out about the script and signed up for the role.
He lost 47 pounds for the role. Jard Leto plays Rayon, a compassionate transgender woman with AIDS and Woodroof’s sidekick. Leo lost over 30 pounds for his role in the movie. Many believe he carried as much of the film as McConaughey did. Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post wrote,
“Leto earns the audience’s fierce attention; as Woodroof’s transgender business partner, he is both showier and more subtle in its respective ways. In a part that radiates from appearances and rallies against poor dialogue, he perfects the surface and the sadness underneath; an evident supporting role, he never overwhelms nor stays in the shadows.”
Dallas Buyers Club was received well by critics, and has six nominations for the Academy Awards, including Best Picutre, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for McConaughey, and Best Supporting Actor for Leto. It also received two Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Best Actor (McConaughey) and Best Supporting Actor (Leto), and was nominated for Best Cast. McConaughey and Leto won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor again at the Golden Globes.
Just like Woodroof gave back to the AIDs community, McConaughey gives back to his community, as well. In 1993, McConaughey established the Just Keep Livin Foundation in Beverly Hills, California to help high school students grow into solid adults through “programs that teach the importance of decision-making, health – mental, physical, and spiritual – education, and good all-round active living.”