Dallas Buyers Club
Rating: If you privately think that Indiana needs a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, go see Jared Leto’s performance as Rayon, a transvestite that heterosexual men will love.
Dallas Buyers Club is the type of movie that all loyal cinema fans cherish. It stomps on your heart while simultaneously soothing your soul. Much like 12 Years a Slave, it recreates a staggering moment in our country’s history that brings shame on our national heritage.
For those of you who still reject Matthew McConaughey, it’s time to let his dead cinematic past rest peacefully in the grave. Here, having lost over sixty pounds for the role, he plays Ron Woodroof, a Texan living in 1985 who rides bulls in the rodeo when not working as an electrician. Skinny as a rail, he cares about little else other than gambling, whisky, cocaine and having sex with strippers whenever they are available.
In failing health, he ends up in a hospital and is stunned to learn that he has HIV. A morbid heterosexual who hates gays, he retreats into the dark corners of his pedestrian life. Think of him as related to the present Mayor of Toronto or the prior Mayor of San Diego.
McConaughey is soon forced to confront the ugly side of his new reality, which includes ridicule and rejection by former friends. After all, who is he trying to kid by claiming to be a heterosexual with HIV.
Facing a medical projection that gives him thirty days to live, the film erupts beyond description from captivating performances by Jared Leto and Griffin Dunne. Leto is devastatingly compelling playing Rayon, an AIDS stricken transsexual that McConaughey meets in the hospital. Initially repulsed by Rayon, they become unexpected business partners after McConaughey flees to Mexico for drugs that are unavailable in the States.
Leto’s performance is magnificent on multiple levels, and it is safe to say that he will at least get nominated for a supporting actor at this year’s Oscars. He is as attractive as he is witty, and you never can take your eyes off of him while he rides his painfully slow road to Hell.
As for Mr. Dunne, he plays Dr. Vass, a disbarred American physician who has retreated to Mexico to try to do something meaningful with his skills. He takes McConaughey under his wing, providing him with non-FDA approved medication to take back to the States. Mr. Dunne is charming at every turn.
The film then centers around McConaughey and Leto forming a company known as the Dallas Buyers Club. While they are not selling illegal drugs, they allow AIDS patients to join on a monthly basis so that needed medications can be provided. Everyone is smiling but the United States Government and America’s pharmaceutical industry.
Forming the framework of this wonderful film is an historic analysis of the scandalous drug culture that existed in Texas and elsewhere in the 1980’s. Leto and McConaughey seldom pass up a chance to ingest illegal substances, and our Federal Drug Administration does basically the same thing while letting AIDS victims sink or swim. Though medical advances existed around the world, our national policy was dictated by the political and monetary influence of drug manufactures.
The performance by Jennifer Garner should also be noted, here playing Dr. Eve Saks, one of McConaughey’s original treating physicians. She becomes the center piece of the AIDS treatment controversy experienced by all physicians. She and her colleagues had to choose between the accepted treatment with a drug known as AZT or tolerate clubs like McConaughey’s that won’t wait for the F.D.A. to get off it’s reluctant butt.
This is a film that will force you to remember how horrified the Country became when Rock Hudson died of AIDS. Citizens had to ask a difficult question, namely “If Rock was gay, then who else is?”
When you see the moment when McConaughey hugs Leto publically simply to provide him with a bit of dignity, you know the answer to that question remains “who cares”.