Review #47 Dallas Buyers Club

By Katy Daniels

Amidst a lot of sexual scenes and swearing is a true story with a lot of depth and heart. Ron Woodroof part time rodeo cowboy and full time electrician from Dallas Texas was an avid drug user and womaniser, known for his country ways and homophobia contracted aids from an unknown origin in the 1980s. A time when aids was still a death sentence and the FDA had one product AZT- a product that was fast tract to human trials with limited evidence as to its actual benefits. Woodroof was given 30 days to live, and as a risk taker made a bet that he wouldn’t let aids win so easily. The Dallas Buyers club tells the story of Woodroof’s journey to finding not a cure but drugs that would ease the pain and symptoms and give people more time. Woodroof eventually found drugs, minerals and vitamins (all non-approved by the FDA) with promising results for HIV positive patients not available in the USA but in other countries such as Germany, China, Japan and Mexico. As selling non approved drugs are illegal to move in the USA Woodroof set up the Dallas buyers club with his business partner and fellow aids victim rayon (Jared Leto) whereby they would sell membership and give the drugs for  “free”.

Matthew McConaughey first signed up to the feature 5 years ago, however the film had been in the making for a further 15. Screenwriter Craig bitten inspired by an article in The Dallas Morning News  about the infamous Dallas buyers club, met with Woodroof a month before his passing (in 1992)  in order to gain as much information as possible to make his real life story come to life on the big screen. The film was initially set to be made in the early 90s with Woody Harrelson cast as the lead and Dennis hopper set to direct, however the movie lacked support and was pushed forward each time, dropping actors and directors along the way. Amongst the list to play the main role were: Brad Pitt (late 1990s, with Marc Foster to direct), Ryan Gosling (2008, with director Craig Gillespie) and then finally Matthew McConaughey (with director Jean-Marc Vallée).

Due to the symptoms of HIV both Leto and McConaughey adopted extreme weight loss regimes in order to appear gaunt and ill for their roles. Leto dropped 30lbs whereas McConaughey lost about 50lbs. Their dedication to the roles were undeniable in their physical and emotional presence on screen. McConaughey has made strides rather than steps from the Rom-Com shirtless male lead to Oscar worthy roles as that of the Dallas buyers club.

This biopic directed by Jean-Marc Vallée successfully educates the audience with this bold story of the pain and anguish suffered by an unsung hero who brought hope to those who had none (but at a price).