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Performing Art
Matthew McConaughey stars in "Dallas Buyers Club."
Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 3 years ago

FILM REVIEW: 'Dallas Buyers Club'


The new film "Dallas Buyers Club" not only showcases two phenomenal performances, it also exposes the government playing dirty politics with pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, it sheds light on one of the more tragic chapters in American history.

In 1985, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) was diagnosed with AIDS. The hard-drinking, coke-snorting, racist panty-chaser is told he has 30 days to live, to which he replies, "I ain't no faggot." Initially, Ron's in denial but when he finally accepts his fate, he's denied AZT ... the only FDA-approved drug for treatment.

On a tip, he travels to Mexico to score non-approved vitamins and experimental drugs. As his health improves, Ron smells a business opportunity and begins smuggling medicines into the U.S. To avoid getting busted for selling drugs, he forms a club with monthly membership fees. The members and thus given free medication. And it's all legit.

Ron reluctantly hooks up with Rayon (Jared Leto, in an amazing performance), a transsexual he met in the hospital who rounds up clientele. Soon Ron's hatred for gays evolves into respect and camaraderie. His triumphant transgression is at the emotional heart of this compassionate story of desperate human beings striving for survival.

Director Jean-Marc Vallee ("C.R.A.Z.Y.") has managed to craft a feel-good film out of subject matter that is anything but. He convincingly takes Ron from a low-life bigot and elevates him to savior status. We revel in the transformation rather than question its validity.

But the burden of credibility lies squarely on McConaughey's skinny shoulders (he lost 38 pounds for the role). In his last five films, he's gone from rom-com pretty boy to one of the best actors in the business. His empathic portrayal of the ill-fated Mr. Woodroof never stoops to sentimentality. McConaughey pulls off a tricky balancing act and never flounders. It's perfection.

Ron Woodroof out lived his 30-day death sentence by seven years. In doing so, he stood up for patients' rights, fought the corrupt system and, most likely, saved many lives."Dallas Buyers Club" stands as a testament to all those without a voice who were eventually heard due to the perseverance of many.

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