Friday, December 6, 2013

Dallas Buyers' Club [2013]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Dallas Morning News (B. Minutaglio) 1992 original article
Time Magazine (E. Docktorman) fact-check article
NPR (E. Blair) article
DailyBeast (A. Romano) article

Dallas Buyers' Club [2013] (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, screenplay by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack) tells the true story (with _a couple_ of dramatic flourishes) of Ron Woodroof (played in the film by Matthew McConaughey) a rodeo-loving if not (as portrayed in the film) rodeo-riding Texas "red neck" electrician who in 1985 found himself surprised to be HIV positive and told that he was quite close to death with full-blown AIDS, (1) did some quick research, (2) drove himself down to Mexico, (3) bought some then non-FDA approved drugs/supplements there from an American doctor who had lost his license in the States that (4) stabilized his condition.  Both needing said unapproved drugs/supplements to keep himself alive and realizing that there were multitudes of others in the States who could benefit from the same drugs/supplements,Woodroof (5) setup a flirting-with-the-edges-of-the-law "Buyers Club" in Dallas in which patrons would pay "membership dues" to simply _belong_ to said club and then be able to receive all these unapproved drugs/supplements in any (reasonable) amount "for free."  In this way, Woodroof could argue that he was _not_ selling unapproved and arguably illegal drugs in the States.   

It makes for one heck of a story and the film captures well the very real desperation of the early years of the AIDS crisis, when in the face of mountains of HIV infected individuals facing then certain death, generally within 5 years of infection, standard (and time consuming...) FDA clinical testing protocols seemed positively cruel.  Indeed, throughout the film Woodroof's foils in the film were both doctors at "Dallas General Hospital," represented by the strict, "by the book" medical researcher Dr. Sevard (played by Denis O'Hare) and the more sympathetic/morally struggling "I understand your suffering, but I'm a doctor dammit, and I'd really, really like to keep my job" Dr. Eve Saks (played by Jennifer Gardner) as well as, of course, law enforcement officials.  In dramatic contrast, the film has Woodroof's partner in running the "Dallas Buyers' Club" be a HIV infected transvestite going by the name of Rayon (played by Jared Leto).

This is a very well done and throught/discussion provoking film.  The "rodeo" metaphor is excellent and multifaceted.  For as "tough guy" / "macho" as rodeos may seem at first glance, there's a lot of color present as well, and even some sadness (sad-faced rodeo clowns...).  Finally, rodeo contests often come down to "How long can you stay on the horse?"

Hence, while not exactly for kids, this is A GREAT THOUGHT PROVOKING FILM!  Good job folks, good job!

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