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article imageReview: ‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ doesn’t sugarcoat the controversy Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 2, 2013 in Entertainment
‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ is the story of Texas electrician and his battle against the medical establishment after being diagnosed with HIV in 1986.
It's been 20 years since Philadelphia told the story of a man who was fired because of his HIV status and took his wrongful dismissal suit to court. Now audiences will finally see the story of Ron Woodruff, an electrician who took the Food and Drug Administration to task regarding its approval for treatment of the virus. Dallas Buyer's Club is a powerful portrayal of a man who set out to make a buck but ended up making a statement.
Ron (Matthew McConaughey) was a guy's guy, hanging out at the rodeo, drinking, partying and having sex with any woman that was willing. When a work-related accident reveals he is HIV positive, he refuses to believe he could have contracted the "gay disease" and definitively rejects the 30-day death sentence the doctor prescribes. But the symptoms don't lie and Ron isn't going quietly. Research, bribery and a trip to Mexico staves off Death and starts him on a preliminary version of the cocktail that would prolong his life for years rather than just months.
In spite of the summary, Ron was not simply a victim of circumstance. Recognizing a need that requires filling, he smuggles prescriptions over the border to sell to the desperate infected he despises at a profitable markup. It's a gradual process that sees his selfish desire for survival evolve into activism for everyone's right to alternative care. Spanning several years, the narrative progressively leaps forward from days to weeks to months, marking significant events in Ron's life including the establishment of a club that fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.
This is not only Ron's story, but also the tale of how AZT was shelved as a cancer medication but fast-tracked to human trials as a treatment for HIV. The negative side effects is part of the reason Ron fought so whole heartedly for alternative care. Eventually the dosage was modified and it became the most common treatment for HIV, but the initial results were not promising.
McConaughey is outstanding and definitely a best actor contender. Having lost a significant amount of weight to portray the severely ill activist, his cheeks and waistline are sunken in as makeup darkens his typically bright features. His Southern charm remains key to his character, but there are a lot of added layers to Ron's personality. As good as McConaughey is, he is often outshined by Jared Leto who plays Ron's partner in crime, Rayon. She is sassy, caring and one of the main reasons Ron's perception changes. Rayon effectively pushes her way into Ron's heart while winning the audience's.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée applies his aptitude for the dramatic and touching, leveraging the two powerhouse performances to tell a notable story.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto
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