It tells the true story of a difficult and uncompromising electrician named Ron Woodroof (McConaughey, in a career-making performance) who contracts the HIV-virus. He tries to obtain the AZT anti-retroviral drug in order to extend his life, but because it hasn’t been tested properly by the authorities, it’s forbidden.
With the support of a transvestite named Rayon (Jared Leto), Woodroof attempts to import the drugs illegally, putting him in direct confrontation with the government.
Like Midnight Cowboy, this is the compassionately told story of an unlikely friendship between two lost souls who have nowhere to go and nobody willing to help them. They are drifting aimlessly in a sea of confrontation, hate, prejudice and rejection and find solace only in each other. But it is also the story of a man who will let nothing stand in his way to improve the life of Aids sufferers.
Don’t expect a sentimental tale filled with stirring music, beautiful people and soft focus scenes. These characters are not obsessed with self-love, admiration or even support from the audience. They want to live at all costs, and it is only when they are confronted by death that they are forced to re-evaluate life, love, friendship and dedication to a cause. The film also explains how important life is, even for people who have nothing going for them and no future to speak of.
Matthew McConaughey lost 21 kilograms while Leto gained weight and changed his appearance as Rayon in order to embody the characters properly. It is to the actors’ credit that they allow us some illuminating glimpses into the souls of two men who would otherwise not even have made an impact on our collective consciousness.
Dallas Buyers Club is a tough, uncompromising, bleak film that may feature strongly in Sunday night’s Oscar race.