Ron Woodroof was a heterosexual Texas electrician, a macho rodeo fan. He was also a racist homophobe who was diagnosed with HIV and given thirty days to live which led to him being ostracised by his friends and fellow worker’s. It was when writer Craig Borten read an article about Woodroof in 1992 that he thought his story would make a good movie. After extensive interviews he decided to tell how Woodroof’s fight for life involved a battle for the anti viral medication he believed would prolong his life. To this end he become a smuggler of what were classed as unapproved drugs by America’s Federal Drugs Agency and therefore illegal. By 1987 Woodroof had established a business to supply unapproved drugs to aids sufferers. In an attempt to get around the law, that could mean a hefty prison sentence for anyone selling ‘illegal’ medicine, he set up a scheme based on one already running in New York City. “Clients” would pay a monthly subscription entitling them to as much free medication that they required. The operation was called the Dallas Buyers Club and by 1992 had 4000 regular customers receiving treatment that was more innovative than the treatment given at that time by the medical profession.
Although there were many other such clubs operating, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack’s script concentrates on Ron Woodroof’s activities. Into this true life scenario comes two main characters that are composites of real people. Namely the sympathetic female doctor Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) and the drug addicted cross dresser Rayon, played by Jared Leto who deservedly won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Finally, topping even his award winning roles in Mud (2012), Killer Joe (2012) and The Paperboy (2012) Matthew McConaughey, who lost around 50 lbs. to play the part of Ron Woodroof, has finally won an Academy award for the Best Actor for his first class performance as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (2013).
Jean-Marc Vallee, the French Canadian filmmaker who was responsible for the award winning The Young Victoria (2009), makes a remarkable job of highlighting the grey area that covers the prescription drug laws administered by the Federal Drug Agency and America’s for-profit medical establishment along with the time that was taken by a civilised and humane country to respond to the treatment of Aids.
The finance for the movie took two and a half years to raise and because of budgetary problems the shoot time was reduced from 45 to 25 days and was shot in available light for the same reason. Resulting from this strict filming schedule has come an exceptional movie that even managed to draw a tear or two from the most hardened film blogger especially when Ron finally realises that he has feelings for Rayon and lets be honest who could not fall in love with Jared Leto’s Rayon, a character who hides ‘her’ frailty and fear so well behind a frock. A non-judgmental and humorous film that will appeal to all, but the most bigoted amongst us.