Dallas Buyers Club

January 24, 2014 - Matthew McConaughey dropped 40 pounds and gained an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a real-life man who led his own personal fight against AIDS in the mid to late Eighties, a time when not much was understood about the disease. Jared Leto also scored an Oscar nod for his role as a drag queen named Rayon. Others in the cast include Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne and Steve Zahn.

McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a hard-livin' Texan who works as an electrician to support his habits of women, booze, drugs, and the rodeo. When we first meet Ron, he's already gaunt and has a nasty cough. Soon, an accident at the oil field where he works sends him to the hospital. The doctors diagnose him with HIV and give him 30 days to live.

When Ron realizes that he doesn't have the strength to go out with a bang, he decides to do some research. He learns that a trial of the drug AZT is getting underway, but with no guarantee that he'll actually get AZT, Ron sets out to find alternative treatments.

That search leads Ron to start the Dallas Buyers Club, which caters to AIDS patients such as himself. Leto's Rayon withstands Ron's homophobia and helps bring in clients, and Ron networks with researchers around the world while trying to stay under the radar of the FDA. Eventually, it all catches up with him, but not before Ron earns a lot more than 30 more days of life along with the appreciation of a community he once scorned.

Overall review: *** The performances of McConaughey and Leto make this fact-based film worth watching. Without them, it's a two-star film as the story itself is not told in a particularly exciting way. I also felt that Jennifer Garner (who I generally like) was miscast as the sympathetic doctor. She seems out of her depth in this film with two actors who made the sacrifices necessary to embody their roles.