Loosely based on the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1986 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live.
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For those of you who haven't heard the Oscar buzz surrounding this movie and its performances, I'll fill you in. This is a film that relies on the performances given by its stars, and the writing for these characters, which on that the writing is fantastic. It takes liberties as any film based on real events, but it integrates the falsehoods and unreal so well in the complicated tale of Mr. Ron Woodroof that it doesn't take you out of the experience, but enhances its viewing pleasure.
Such is the case with Dallas Buyers Club. Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey star in Dallas Buyers Club, and I can say it's ideal casting. To start with, McConaughey's drawl is spot-on, and his commitment to weight loss for the sake of realism is astonishing. His ability to remake his identity in the realm of movies is a delight, because he has starred in so many other genres. Yet until now we haven't seen him in a role so dramatic and tragic, although I can’t say the same for Jared Leto. Each of his films over the last fifteen years has been completely different, each role complex and very specific to a certain lifestyle. He has ranged from drug addict-skinny, a 60-pound overweight man, and now we see him in his most intense lifestyle change.
Jared Leto plays a homosexual cross-dresser name Rayon, trying to get a sex change. Rayon is attempting to do this by splitting her new AZT pills and selling them for $5,000 out of each test bottle. The catch is that AZT is approved by the FDA, but is proven in most cases to be given in too high a dose, and thus destroys a person’s red blood cells and white blood cells since their immune system is already depleted. So when Ron Woodroof starts buying AZT under the counter we know at this point it’s the only helping ailment to the AIDS and HIV disorders. So in her first appearance, Rayon has just given our main character a blood transfusion to save his life after AZT killed off a majority of his blood cells.
Rayon is a compassionate and sharp woman who knows what she wants, and has that southern belle charm. She knows that she will be dead soon, so is still not given hope when she’s told about AZT, and the fact that she’s one of few to be in the program. Now since I’ve been talking about Rayon so much, we should get back to Ron.
Ron is a promiscuous, gambling, drinking, cocaine-snorting man who is deathly afraid and prejudiced against all gay men. We see from his friends that they are not the least bit good in influence to him, and encourage this behavior in him. They roughhouse, swear, swindle and have no respect for anything outside of loose women and a cold drink. Ron gets himself into a drug-induced coma, and is brought to the hospital. What he doesn’t know is that the doctors performed blood tests, and that he’s tested positive for that “Rock Hudson f**got s*it.” This is what drives Matthew McConaughey’s character to the edge after he finds out he has thirty days left. From then on the film introduces each different scene by which day it is. Ron searches high and low how to get AZT. This is the drug that eventually has him meet up with Rayon.
The way these two characters get together is ingenious, as in real-life he had a transfusion in real-life, and that was it. As I said the characters are not forced together by improbable and unlikely scenarios, but rather through a sensible chain of events.
This writing and in-depth character detail brings the tragedy of the story to the brim in the later story. We find out that Rayon is possibly having homosexual intercourse, while using intravenous drugs such as heroin, which leads us to the idea she was infected with the HIV virus. Ron has the supplements unapproved by the FDA taken away, and his partner Rayon is constantly discriminated, and shows much kindness to Ron, even selling her insurance policy for Ron to keep his business going. Not many times do I see a film that makes me cry four times for different reasons. Many heartfelt scenes bring up different emotions at the same time. Rayon jokes about dying, Ron meets up with his doctor friend for a dinner in which they sure some hardcore dramatic details about their life. The lights are low, the shots are close, and it ends with you knowing he’s in agony without mentioning it in a single word.
*END OF SPOILERS*
I may have labeled the above spoilers, but the rising and falling action I won’t spoil, because the power of those scenes is too great for me to summarize. Dallas Buyers Club is a fantastic film with great cinematography, and really showcases how the digital age of movies can be put masterfully to the epic dramatic arts. I give the Dallas Buyers Club my ultimate recommendation, as it truly is the best drama of the last two years.