Movie Review: Dallas Buyers Club [2013]

I rarely have a great anticipation for quiet movies like Dallas Buyers Club, but when I watch them, almost never get  disappointed. That also applies to Jean-Marc Vall√©e's movie about mid 80's AIDS crises. Film tells a story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) -  a homophobic hustler who is diagnosed with HIV and his confrontational fight for survival.

Ron is a typical Texas guy, who is "of course" into women and thinks that HIV is a disease only for gays. Spending days smoking pot, drinking in company of some ladies, he never thought that he could possible be infected. But when one day Woodroof blacks out the doctors tell an unfortunate news - he is going to die in a very short time. While being at the hospital for trials, he meets an infected transgender Rayon (Jared Leto), who later becomes his partner in business. But at the beginning he is just a jerk making all these homophobic remarks. 

As regular treatments do not work and Ron's health condition becomes more and more vulnerable, he decides to take care of himself by stealing a particular medicine AZT, but it has its side effects and Woodroof once again finds himself back in hospital. That's why he starts to look for other ways to survive, finding a help from a Mexican drug dealer, Dr. Vass who believes that cocktail of some drugs and vitamins can stop development of HIV. But this medicine is not approved by FDA (Food and Drug administration), so it is illegal to sell them on the territory of United States. Ron decides to import this drug "for his own use", which falls within the scope of the law. As time goes by, he feels that it helps and decides to share it with other HIV+ people. For this reason, he and Rayon establish Dallas Buyers Club - a club with members, who get treatment for free (which is not sale and it does not contradict regulations), but they have to pay a monthly membership fee. Despite that, there are plenty of people willing to become members and Woodroof's business expands quite quickly. He finally gets along with transgenders and gays quite well, even protecting them from other homophobic heterosexuals. 

This movie is about many things, started from HIV & AIDS to harmful effects of FDA regulations and Dallas Buyers Club perfectly manages to illustrate all these clearly. Bringing a lot question on surface, most important one is whether people who are anyway going to die, shall or shall not be allowed to experiment while choosing a treatment method themselves, and whether any body of government, like FDA, is entitled to keep the from getting any kind of drug for that purpose. Maybe movie itself does not give a clear cut answer, but I read this a NO, because people have right to fight for the survival in any way they want to and as shown in this film, any regulations against their will result in people dying. 

For this great delivery of topic, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack deserve credit for writing a truly original story, with some good dialogues, character developments and interesting plot. 
Jared Leto as Rayon
But the reason this movie is quite good is performances of Matthew and Jared. McConaughey, who is getting better and better actor, playing characters that do not require his charm and handsomeness, is great as Ron Woodroof. He perfectly illustrates survival instinct of dying man. This is an astonishing transformation - losing several kilos for character. But I loved Leto even more, because his transgender Rayon is so realistic, so good and natural, I was forgetting that it was Jared playing in the dress. You have to just watch why I call his performance perfect. 

Rest of cast, including Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn, Danis O'Hare is no less good. Especially Garner, who can be a dark horse in supporting actress nomination, which is less likely, but if AMPAS loves the film as a whole, she can make it. 

Movie, in general, is good; a very descent film with interesting story. One of those quiet films that bring you many topics to think about and whenever you're done watching it, then you realize how good that hour and a half was. 

Oscar chances?! Matthew is locked for Best Actor nomination and Jared for Supporting. I think Leto is more shoo-in to win his nomination than McConaughey, but who knows. I also predict an Original Screenplay and Best Picture nominations, because it get a lot love from critics.


  1. I really liked this one. McConaughey's character, in spite of his prejudices was so likable - his ability to open to others later on and his determination to survive and make things better were so touching. I liked him more than Leto, as good as Leto was.

  2. Definitely, his character is very interesting, even more than Leto's. I just found Jared's transformation very charming and interesting. But, no doubt, they both are outstanding.