Posted March 18, 2014
By EMELIA NUNN
I have the luck of living in a town with a small movie theater, with tickets costing only $7 per person, drink and snacks included.
Of course, because of the size of the theater, it often gets the big-name movies and nothing else, as they want to show the movies that will bring in the most moviegoers. However, for they past two weekends, they have decided to show a few of the films nominated for Oscars this year, which gave me the opportunity to watch “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The film is set in 1985 Texas, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The scrawny and haywire main character of Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, is diagnosed with HIV after being brought to the hospital for a work accident.
The film then follows him through his downward spiral and to the realization that there happens to be money in selling AIDS drugs. After being hospitalized in Mexico with full-blown AIDS, Woodroof teams up his doctor and beginnings trafficking these drugs to the U.S. for sale.
That is where he joins with my favorite character of the film, Rayon (played by Jared Leto), who opens the homophobic Woodroof up to the gay and transgender scene, where he is able to meet many of his future clients.
This biopic film of Ron Woodroof takes on many risky tasks, such as portraying the gay and transgender scene of 1980s Texas and how outsiders viewed it. This includes the portrayal of Leto’s character, a transgender woman with AIDS who becomes Woodroof’s partner in his eventual “Buyer’s Club.”
As the role was cast to a straight man, it involved a severe change in personality and appearance by Leto. However, the minute I saw his character, I fell in love.
He disappeared into the character of Rayon and created someone that showed both the struggle of the transgender community, as well as the personal struggle of someone suffering from AIDS in a time where there prognosis were in days, not years. As Leto was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role, it is obvious that I am not the only person to see his triumph in the film.
The strongest performance in the film, however, has to go to McConaughey. His most memorable devotion to this film was his severe weight loss, reported to be abour 60 lbs. However, I believe it was his erratic, comical and intense approach to the character that truly made Woodroof shine.
McConaughey is able to move this character of a homophobic cowboy and mechanic through steps of acceptance, both physical and social, to the point where he has altered his drug and booze fueled lifestyle to one of clean living and social acceptance. A scene involving Woodroof and Rayon in a grocery store I believe displays this transformation better than any other part of the movie. Between the couple-like bickering over food between Rayon and Woodroof, and Woodroof’s forceful position on Rayon’s rights; it is hard not to view the scene as a transcendent moment for both of the main characters.
I believe this film succeeded where many have failed in showing the struggle of the gay and transgender community, especially during the outbreak of AIDS in the 1980s.
While viewing the movie, the audience is able to understand the frightful reasoning behind those scorning the misunderstood disease, while also sympathizing with those diagnosed at a time when help and medicine were hard to find. I believe the film succeeded in setting both the tone and mood of the period, as well as opening new eyes to the environment of the epidemic.
Of course, the film also succeeds in illuminating the existence of “buyer’s clubs,” small citizen factions that researched and imported drugs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS symptoms before regimented treatment was developed. Until this film, I had no idea that such groups ever existed and I was surprised at the extent Woodroof’s character went to supply these people with medication for their disease.
I must say that McConaughey deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof. Although he went to the extremes to portray this figure in history, he did so in such a way that caused the audience both grief and joy. A character such as this does not come around every day.
- Film: “Dallas Buyer’s Club”
- Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Garner
- Length: 1 hour, 57 minutes
- MPAA Rating: R
- Limited Release Date: November 1, 2013
- Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Film Editing
- Oscar Wins: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Makeup and Hairstyling