Imagine doctors told you have 30 days to live. What do you do? Slip into a state of denial? Tell them they’ve made a mistake? Spend your cash on cheap hookers and expensive drugs? Rodeo Romeo, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) did just that when he was told to prepare for his pending doom after catching the AIDS virus back in 1985 when the deadly disease was almost as common as a cold.
Ron’s wincing headaches and frequent faints cause him to face up to the fact that – no, it’s not just ‘homos & fags’ who catch HIV and AIDS. It’s those who irresponsibly dabble in the hedonistic world of sex, drugs and, in this cowboy’s case, rodeos.
Despite his rapidly declining health (the guy begins to make Mr Smithers from The Simpson’s fame look like Arnie in the 80s), Ron’s desperation to survive propels him to research and revolutionalise the way AIDS patients are treated.
Leto plays Rayon with class and compassion in what could be a breakthrough for him as an actor, along with a rare and refreshing representation of transgender roles on the big screen.
His quest leads him to discover the drug ‘AZT’ which despite being pushed by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), make his health matters worse. Taking things into his own weary hands he discovers overseas medications which, despite being illegal in the USA, seem to help his own as well as his fellow AIDS sufferers’ dire situation. Cue a worldwide smuggling operation after the discovery of a convenient loophole that allows Ron to set up The Dallas Buyers Club.
Matthew McConaughey does a fine job of reminding us what a superb actor can do when set free from the realms of a rosy romcom. To prepare for the role, Matthew ‘just stopped eating’ and read the real Ron’s personal diary where he learned how he engaged with other people and himself. As a result, we’re presented with a well-honed anti-hero on his retaliating crusade of socking it to The Man, all the while gaining a healthier understanding of the world and people around him.
One of those people includes ‘Rayon’ (Jared Leto) a transgender HIV sufferer. Rayon’s character may be a fictional addition to the otherwise true story, but he serves to emancipate Ron from homophobe git to a far more compassionate soul in what could be the most unlikely bromance since Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un.
After six years, this is a welcome return for Jared who’s been fannying around with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars for over a decade. Less we forget, Leto can act his ass off – literally. He sheds half his bodyweight to play the part of hard suffering, high rolling and completely charming Rayon who could have easily slopped into an irresponsible caricature, yet Leto plays Rayon with class and compassion in what could be a breakthrough for him as an actor, along with a rare and refreshing representation of transgender roles on the big screen. Ru Paul, this ain’t.
Bleak yet beautiful, Dallas Buyers Club is refreshing, sincere and expertly spun by a cast you’ll be overjoyed to see back to being brilliant.