Dallas Buyers Club epitomises everything good about independent film-making, tackling difficult subjects with raw emotion and honesty, and without stepping over uncomfortable situations or controversial talking points.
Shot in 25 days and on a limited budget, the film, which had been in the pipeline for nearly 20 years, is a real dog fight. Directed by The Young Victoria’s Jean-Marc Vallée, Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a Texan electrician, who is told he has just thirty days to live after being diagnosed as HIV positive. Woodroof is your stereotypical all-American cowboy type; a real hustler with a reckless streak and a keen eye for the ladies. After coming to grips with the reality of his situation, he soon sets out, with the help of the cross-dressing Rayon (Jared Leto), to gain access to anti-viral medication for fellows sufferers. What Woodroof finds is an unsympathetic medical system and a greed-infested drugs industry, which sets him off on a world-wide mission to seek cheaper, and better, alternatives to the ineffective drugs that were being currently used in treatment for the condition.
The film, which does not shy away from the out-dated misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS and its supposed relationship with the gay community, makes for uncomfortable, yet highly-engaging viewing. The film, epitomised my McConaughey’s mesmerizing portrayal of Woodroof, is a battle for life. It not only shows the devastating effects of the disease in heart-wrenching fashion, but also the strength of human character when its back is well and truly up against the wall.
You can not help, for good or bad, but keep your eyes on McConaughey. Despite his many obvious flaws, it is difficult not to cheer for the anti-hero Woodroof as he battles not only against an impersonal medical system, but his own ignorant misconceptions and beliefs, to help not just himself, but a community in much need of it.
Jean-Marc Vallée has produced a film that does not beat around the bush. It not only handles a very sensitive issue set in a time period where there was much confusion, as well as prejudice, towards HIV/AIDS suffers, but it also brings into question both the moral and ethical stand-points of both the medical profession and the multi-billionaire drugs corporations. Lead by the fantastic McConaughey and supported by the hauntingly good Jared Leto, as well as Jennifer Gardner as the sympathetic doctor Eve, Dallas Buyers Club is a tragically powerful, yet mesmerizing watch that deserves all the recognition it has been receiving.