Plot: Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a hard living man who loves the rodeo, booze, and women. He’s an abrasive, aggressive man who pushes for what he wants, but a blood test reveals he is HIV+, his world turns upside down. At first he assumes it is a false positive and believes only homosexuals can contract the virus, but he also does some research in case his terminal diagnosis is real. As his health worsens, he is also denied a chance at potential survival due to medical regulations and the FDA’s process, but he refuses to give in and die. He launches a worldwide search for drug trials and newly discovered treatments, even hauling back medicine doses and opening a “buyers club” to circumvent legal issues. As he faces resistance from local medical officials, the FDA, and the IRS, Woodroof pushes on and tries to spread both medicine and knowledge, in a search for a way to simply survive.
Entertainment Value: A powerful, based on true events picture, Dallas Buyers Club was an acclaimed movie that would win multiple Oscars and countless other awards. A lot of things in Ron Woodroof’s story have been changed here, such as adding in elements to soften his persona, but the core of his struggle remains intact. A man trying to fight for his life against a corrupt system that insists he just die, this is powerful stuff and a sad, all too common situation. The approach is simple, just let the actors carry the story and movie itself, which makes sense, given that the movie was made with very limited financial resources. So the movie is reliant on the cast above all else, but thankfully, this crew is more than up to the task. Matthew McConaughey lost over forty pounds for this role and really conveys the ravages of the virus, in a riveting performance that would win him an Academy Award. His frail physical presence is a stark contrast with his strong, bold attitude and really makes his performance shine. Jared Leto also lost a lot of weight for his role here and won an Oscar as well, his interactions with McConuaghey here are some of the movie’s most poignant moments. Also here is Jennifer Garner, as a doctor struggling with how limited she is to help her patients. This is a tough one to watch, but it is also an inspiring story brought to life by dynamic, powerful performances, so Dallas Buyers Club is well recommended.
A few topless scenes and bare asses of both men and women, including the obligatory hospital gown mooning scene. A number of sex scenes happen in the movie, but for the most part, minimal skin is shown and none are graphic in nature. There are a couple scenes of violence, but it is just brief fights or confrontations, so a busted lip or nose is about as bad as it gets. McConaughey and Leto both lost a lot of weight for these roles and look quite frail, which really drives home the toll the virus has taken, as makeup and effects can only do so much. Ron Woodroof is quite the wildcard, so he has a wealth of humorous, dysfunctional, and disruptive dialogue here, including some casual racism and homophobia certain to offend some. The movie takes great pains to soften him for dramatic purposes, but also presents him as someone who doesn’t care for gays or minorities that much. The exceptional lengths taken to prepare for these roles by McConaughey and Leto are quite insane, but otherwise, this is a pretty straight ahead dramatic picture.
Overall Insanity: 1/10