Film review: Dallas Buyers Club

Joseph Austin reviews Dallas Buyers Club
Joseph Austin reviews Dallas Buyers Club
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Joesph Austin reviews Dallas Buyers Club, starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey.

Dallas 1985.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey); electrician, part-time rodeo cowboy, drug addict, sex addict and all-round hustler, is diagnosed with Aids.

Given 30 days to live and denied any access to treatment, while also losing his job, his friends and his home, Woodroof creates an exclusive club for Aids patients offering unapproved drugs, in a bid to not only save his own life but the lives of countless others.

“Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club.”

Today, you’ll struggle to find a more overwhelming, personal and charismatic story than Dallas Buyers Club.

Set bang smack in the middle of the Aids epidemic in America in the mid-1980s, Woodroof’s plight is one of many that could have been voiced during this unpleasant period in America’s history.

A truly human story that is less a journey of self-discovery and more a bittersweet celebration of life in the face of certain death, Jean-Marc Vallée’s bio-pic is both fantastically joyful yet terrifically despairing.

Undeniably worthy of his Oscar for best actor in a leading role, and continuing his roll of recent impressive performances, McConaughey is stunning as the self-indulgent sleaze Ron Woodroof.

Getting in to shape for the role (if you can call it that) McConaughey lost almost a quarter of his bodyweight for the film, leading to claims that the actor was actually ill before shooting.

Enjoying a life of deep-seeded debauchery, Woodroof’s diagnosis turns his world upside down.

Branded a “faggot” and finding himself at the end of his own initial homophobic views, he is treated as an outcast by his co-workers and driven from his vandalised home.

Yet, in one of his many visits to hospital, Woodroof strikes up an unlikely friendship with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender Aids patient, with whom Woodroof eventually goes into business.

Jared Leto almost steals the spotlight from McConaughey, and both performances are fully deserved of their recent accolades.

Winning an Oscar for best actor in a supporting role, Leto’s Rayon is a wonderfully absorbing character who challenges everything Ron believes regarding homosexuality and friendship.

Jennifer Garner also adds some significant acting prowess as Dr Eve Saks.

Befriending both Rayon and Woodroof, she is caught up in an ethical dilemma which questions her own position as a doctor, after the drug screenings ran by the hospital leave so many without treatment.

Those going to see Dallas Buyers Club and expecting to see Woodroof undergo a life-changing journey of self-affirmation, becoming vegetarian and downing smoothies, will thankfully be disappointed.

Although he dons the cassock of a priest (a ploy to smuggle drugs across the border) Woodroof’s new lease of life after his diagnosis is far from saintly.

He is still the same ol’ beer-swigging, rodeo-loving, smooth-talking, and cowboy hat-wearing Ron Woodroof. Even far beyond his fledging 30-day deadline.

Driven by its astounding performances and emotionally hinged story, Dallas Buyers Club is a joy to behold.

A true work of art that will no doubt inspire many, see this film even if it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.