Film Review: Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallee, 2013) ★★★★★

An unrecognisable Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey star in Dallas Buyers Club
Based  (loosely) on the life of Ron Woodroof, Matthew McConaughey stars as a straight yet promiscuous lowlife who discovers he is HIV positive in 1980's Texas. Struggling to come to terms with his fate, given just 30 days to live, Ron turns to the black market in a fight for his survival.

Ron Woodroof is the purest embodiment of Texas trailer trash. He is a sleazy oil company electrician, trading rodeo glories for cheap sex, drinks down crappy coke and whisky but it not before long that his ever decreasing health lands him in hospital. Upon waking, he soon learns that he has just 29 days to live and is dying of AIDS and his life is turned upside down. Going through all the stages of denial, bargaining etc, Ron must think fast and the story becomes no longer about who he was, but the man he becomes.

1985, Texas. Hollywood actor Rock Hudson is found to be dying of AIDS and an uneducated America is facing a growing pandemic that saw 121 men dead by the end of 1981. Believed at the time to only be found in gay men, Ron Woodroof is now an outcast. His cheapjack friends have abandoned him, believing he is a homosexual and contagious; he is kicked out of his trailer and left with no choice but to bargain for his life on the pharmacy black-market. Having done his research, Woodroof soon finds that what the United States will not approve, can be bought over the boarder and brought back in order to help others suffering from the disease. 

Along his journey, however, he finds Rayon, a trans-gender prostitute also with AIDS played by Jared Leto. Together, the pair target support groups and trial patients to spread the word against AZT - a test drug, at the time, that seemed to actually be killing white blood sells and making HIV suffers worse but the hospitals benefited from - and issue membership at $400 to the unapproved drug which was buying Ron more time. And so the Dallas Buyers Club was born.

The unlikely duo find friendship in their shared suffering and Ron finds strength in Rayon's refusal to be victimised besides their petty squabbles. The DEA are closing in on their business and shutting down their supplies but Ron persists gaining support from the HIV community and trustworthy doctor, Eve (Jennifer Garner), who risks her career, torn between her conscience and her job. We soon realise that Woodroof is in possession of an agile mind unlike that we are led to believe at the beginning. He is quick to decipher mystifying science at a time when HIV and AIDS was baffling to modern science.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting for a life I haven't got time to live"
Ron's transition is significant and made so clear in the scene in which he enters a room full of butterflies that surround him. But by no means is he reformed nor saved. Through all his scheming, he is still pretty much a jackass but it is his obnoxious centre that is battling for his life and whilst he is not necessarily a loveable character, we are somehow rooting for him as he longs to feel "human again". 

Dallas Buyers Club acts as a statement on medical science and opinions on HIV in 1980's America, especially the southern and noted, homophobic states of the time. The hospitals refer to themselves as a "business", putting forward the wealth of the hospital over the well-being of the patients and ability to brush off the emotional needs of AIDS sufferers. We see Ron's decent in to hell as he is alone, abandoned finding little comfort in the cocaine and alcohol which is only making him immune system worse. The relationship developed between Ron and Rayon is anything but perfect yet it is somehow beautiful and like that of an old married couple. Neither have had it easy and the film depicts a moving and at times, heartbreaking and humorous approach to a story of survival against the odds made so incredible by the undeniable performances of lead and support actors. 

All in all, a fantastic and moving piece which will now establish director Vallee, at the top of his game. No longer is McConaughey a rom-com heart throb actor, as shown not only by this feature but by Mud (2013), Killer Joe (2011) and The Paperboy (2012). He is an Oscar winner and one of the greatest in the industry and deserving of his title as is Leto for his outstanding performance as Rayon. Never a dull moment, excellent eye for detail, perfect cinematography and so much depth to its narrative and character development. Dallas Buyers Club gets a Sophie star rating of 5 out of 5. 2014 is a great year for film, y'all. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your opinions on it, 



  1. This movie was so incredible, tough and captivating. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did x

  2. Loved every bit of this movie, even shed a tear at just how cruel people can be and judging a person by what they hear. I knew straight away after seeing the movie that Jared would win an Oscar and Matthew as well because these roles they played sure didn't come easy. Also the thing with Jared Leto's that he's hot even as a dying woman lol.


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