Though AIDS for most is a death sentence, it also can be that jolt which changes people’s lives.
Trigger Warning(s): Vocal Bigotry
Review (with Spoilers)
I’ve been meaning to see this film for a few weeks and the first time I tried to it was sold out. Something that hasn’t happened to me in years. So, of course, that heightened my interest, as well as the Oscar buzz for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. So after purchasing a ticket online, which is always a smarter decision, I finally got to see this.
Characters & Story
The focus of the film is on an electrician/ bull rider named Ron Woodroof. When we first meet him, he is the embodiment of your stereotypical redneck. He is sexist, racist, homophobic as hell, and then he finds out he got AIDS. Now, mind you, when Woodroof gets AIDS it is the 1980s so the disease is assumed to be solely something homosexual and drug addicts get, and while Woodroof may like coke he almost beats the crap out of anyone who dares hints he is gay. But, once he reveals his diagnosis to a friend, that is all they see him as, and with his health failing and him in denial of the disease, he finds himself in a position where either he can live to the 30 days Dr. Sevard (played by Denis O’Hare) prescribed, or fight.
Thus leading to what the majority of the movie is about. Woodroof’s fight to live begins with him doing research while we, as an audience, slowly see how the healthcare industry, if not many of the world, decided to handle those with AIDS. Whether it be showing them as guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical industry, with FDA approval; or as social pariahs, especially those of the gay community, that is the world Woodroof finds himself in, with disdain for being associated with what the movie makes out to be an almost sole gay issue, outside of one sole woman.
Well, perhaps really two. Now, though Dr. Eve Saks (played by Jennifer Garner) maybe one of Woodroof’s love interests, and the one who helps him with AIDS and through other issues, truly the woman who deserves the most credit for helping Woodroof evolve as a person is Rayon (played by Jared Leto). Rayon is a transgendered, pre-op, woman who helps Woodroof go from this bigoted man into one who seemingly does have a heart. The two form a bond in which while Woodroof travels the world in order to find drugs which deal with the symptoms of AIDS, as part of him running the Dallas Buyers Club, Rayon handles the fort and is almost the Virginia to Woodroof Bill Masters (from Masters of Sex).
One thing I love about this movie, amongst the other movies out recently featuring some butt hole as the lead, is Woodroof actually evolves in the movie, rather than pretty much stays the same person throughout. Also, like most movies, there is a good bit of comedy to get you through the movie, but perhaps what really needs to be praised is Jared Leto as Rayon. Many times in movies, a supporting actor being good can be considered when they outdo those who are considered the lead. However, Leto instead plays the part of supporting actor in such a way where while he may not outdo McConaughey, he almost seems like the crutch, or walker, which keeps the film moving and I think without Rayon this film wouldn’t be half as good as it is.
As for McConaughey, unlike his likely competitors for various awards, what you must note is that Woodroof is the sole one which has heart. For though he is a bit of a bastard, with him actually evolving past that there is the slight desire to move past the person who we were introduced to. Also, the way McConaughey, and Leto as well, physically seem to falter due to their characters having AIDS seems more than simply makeup and them being skinny, but something which can actually, perhaps, make you forget that the real people who this is based on are dead.
When it comes to issues, though, I really couldn’t find many for while I wasn’t fond of the hate speech, most of those who participated got proper comeuppance. Also, I found it weird how only Woodroof and one woman were the sole, seemingly, heterosexuals with AIDS. Outside of that, though, nothing really pops into my head. Though, after reading a bit about the film, I must admit it would have been interesting to see Woodroof’s daughter in the film.
Overall: Worth Seeing
To me, many of the bigger release which are getting Oscar buzz have a bit too much focus in trying to be funny than telling a story, and while Dallas Buyers Club surely has its moments in which the actors are trying to make you laugh, it feels like they are truly trying to use someone’s real life story to do more than entertain you for 2 hours. Hence why I say this is worth seeing for, amongst the tales of con men and others, this to me stands out based off the films I’ve seen this season.
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