Dallas Buyers Club
AIDS patient Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms. He sold them to fellow AIDs patients and established the "Dallas Buyers Club" against the wishes of various US authorities.
The first shocking thing about this film, and there are many, is McConaughey's appearance, he is gaunt, sallow and appears to have aged 20 years, a physical transformation not seen since Christian Bale in The Machinist. But I would like to suggest that this is possibly the best film role I've seen him in, the story is compelling viewing, if at times his debauchery gets in the way.
His character is a homophobic rodeo cowboy who has spent his life romping with groupies and booze until he is told he has AIDs and is given 30 days to live. At first he becomes depressed and takes to the bottle but then he meets Rayon (Leto) who over time squashes his homophobic tendencies and makes him see the suffering of AIDs patients at the hands of the Texas medical system. And, while I'm handing out applause Leto's turn as Rayon is astounding, he is mesmerising to watch on screen and the rapport with McConaughey is intriguing. Both won well deserved Oscars for their roles in this film.
Another standout performance is Jennifer Garner as Dr Eve Saks, who is misguidedly doling out a lethal drug called zidovudine or AZT to her patients because it is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Woodroof has been ostracized by his friends, lost his job and his house and is finding the medication is making him sicker. He drives to Mexico and on the advice of a former doctor buys ddC and the protein peptide T (not approved in the US). Three months later and Woodroof finds his health has improved. Saks notices his improved health and the deterioration of her patients still on AZT. The two strike up a friendship to try to solve the problem and the Dallas Buyers Club is born. But they have to fight the establishment and Saks' boss who is doing research on testing his patients on AZT. The true hero here is Woodroof who relentlessly sources the drugs from anywhere he can buy them to keep himself and his clients healthy.
This film is very low budget so don't expect glamorous settings and lavish clothes, in fact Garner wanted the part so badly she insisted Vallee make her look ugly so she went sans makeup and wore thrift shop clothes ... still beautiful though.
The Dallas Buyers Club is heartbreaking and triumphant all at once. It is artfully directed by Vallee, the cast is amazing, it is earthy and unabashed, I couldn't stop watching it.