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Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club lives up to the buzz it has generated. Along with the one standout performance that’s been hailed in blurbs galore, there are a couple more that are impressive. The fact that this movie is inspired by true events in the life of a real person adds to its impact.

Ron Woodroof (Mathew McConaughey) is a typical mid-1980’s Texas redneck. He’s a blue- collar worker who lives a hedonistic lifestyle off the job. That includes drugs, booze, strip clubs and casual sex. Although he is straight, he contracts AIDS which, in this time period, is still new and baffling to the medical/pharma community and frightening to everyone.

Upon being told his condition is terminal, he does research and reads about AZT, which is not yet legally available pending tests and FDA approval. Upon procuring AZT and other drugs for himself, he finds there’s a market for these drugs among other AIDS victims.

He forms a “buyers club,” where those who pay a $400/fee can help themselves to whatever meds he has available. To work around existing regulations, such clubs prospered in several cities in the 80’s.

Dallas Buyers Club presents Woodroof as a bit of a hero, one who goes to extreme lengths to obtain medications for AIDS victims, most of whom are gay. But Woodroof’s basic motivation is keeping himself alive.

When an actor gains or loses a significant amount of weight for a role, it generally garners attention. (Think DeNiro, Hanks, Zellwegger, Bale and others.) When this change is accompanied by a great performance, the effect is amplified. McConaughey’s work in DBC is outstanding.

During one hospital stay, Woodroof meets Rayon (an unrecognizable Jared Leto), a cross-dressing gay drug addict. His performance is eye-opening.

Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) is sympathetic to Woodroof’s cause, despite his upset at doctors and the FDA. Garner shows that she, too, like McConaughey, can handle the serious stuff.

Those of us who were around in the 80’s recall the developing AIDS epidemic, aka the “gay disease.” That’s when dentists started using rubber gloves, lest they be exposed to tainted blood.

I lived in Dallas in 1984-85. I worked with a gay newsman at my radio station. He moved to Miami a few years later where he died of AIDS. I wonder if he ever knew Ron Woodroof or someone like him.

McConaughey has to be considered for an Oscar nomination. Added to his work in Mud earlier this year, 2013 has been a year of redemption for him.

Dallas Buyers Club is rated R for many reasons, including sex, language, drug use, etc.


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