Dallas Buyers Club: Review

Film-Toronto Preview

This has had a lot of Oscar nominations and the leads, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, have picked up Golden Globes for their performances already and it’s not hard to see why.

This film is probably most known for McConaughey’s weight loss and although it is shocking at times (he looks so unhealthy!), you get used to it and realise how much it adds to the story. He stars as Ron Woodroof, a real-life electrician who is diagnosed with HIV which, at the time, is called the ‘gay disease’. In the 80s, the only drug available in America is called AZT but it makes him worse, so he seeks out other options. He travels to Mexico where he finds other drugs which haven’t been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and smuggles them into the States.

He soon realised he can sell them onto other HIV/AIDs sufferers, including transgender Rayon (Jared Leto), who go into business together. Selling the drugs are illegal, so they set up a ‘buyers club’ where the drugs are for free once membership has been paid for. That is until the FDA hears about the ring and tries to close them down.


You would expect a film like this to be rather depressing and it is at the start when he is diagnosed and only given 39 days left to live. He looks shocking. You realise how bleak the outlook was for HIV sufferers at that time and how the stigma can almost be as bad as the illness. But then he gets new-found determination, reads up on the literature and figures out to deal with this thing. In doing so, he helps a lot of people and I actually left this feeling positive.

Obviously, you know things don’t end well during these types of stories but I was left feeling so amazed at the lengths Woodroof went through to help other sufferers when he could have been selfish and kept the medication to himself. The FDA kept trying to shut him down but he would just find another loophole or a different supplier. If anything, I was frustrated at the injustice of it all- the FDA are supposed to helping sick people yet they were encouraging sufferers to stay on AZT, which made them sicker and made effective treatments illegal. It provided a great deal of insight into the corruption within the agencies.

The performances are very, very good but if you remove the transformation factor (especially in Leto’s case, dressed as a woman) then I wouldn’t say their performances were any better than the other Oscar nominees. They are on par.

The dialogue and performances are brilliant in this and I don’t want people being put off thinking it is going to be depressing because it is a motivational movie about how far a man will go to survive and to help others. It has such a good message and it is so interesting. A must-see.

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