Dallas Buyers Club

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

“Screw the FDA, I’m a DOA!” With a deadly virus in his body and red tape around his throat, Ron Woodroof is fighting back.

An imperfect man fights for survival during an uncertain time in America. Inspired by true events, Ron Woodroof’s story of strength is told in Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey portrays the real-life character.

He lost 18 kg for his role of a man dying of AIDS. That’s not just a number. The ashen complexion, the red, sunken eyes, the gaunt face and the skeletal body — laid bare to unsparing light — tell the story of a disease that ravaged not just the body but, in the 1980s, left a scared, uncomprehending world looking at something they barely understood.

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After his friends shun him owing to the ‘disease’ and the doctors give him 30 days to put his affairs in order, instead of succumbing to depression, he becomes his own physician. He discovers and smuggles unapproved but effective drugs into the US from Mexico and other countries for himself and to make money.

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What seems like a standard plot is elevated to excellence by the lead actors’ remarkable performances. There’s more to McConaughey than the drastic weight loss. From getting the Texan mannerisms, swagger and his character’s juvenility right, to producing a range of emotions, he reinvents himself and gives the performance of his career. It would be a shame if he doesn’t bag the much-coveted Oscar for it. Leto is a revelation too and deserves the accolades coming his way.

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Dallas Buyers Club may not be the authoritative story on the AIDS scare of the 1980s, but it’s as good as any.

Ron died in 1992, seven years after he was diagnosed with HIV. This is his incredible life story, told with a dash of humour and an empathy-evoking narrative. Brilliant would be an understatement.

Ron Woodroof passed that test.

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