The movie directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y, Young Victoria and Black List fame) tells the true story of a real life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), whose homophobia attitude at first prevents him from accepting the fact that he is suffering from a disease that is more commonly associated with gays. He is slowly distanced by his close set of friends and he is left to fend for himself without any help, even as the doctors tell him he has 30 days left to live.
In a bid to keep himself alive he studies and reads up materials and articles on the disease. He comes across a particular drug company that makes the anti-retroviral drug AZT that could help him live longer. However in few days he is denied any further doses of the life giving drug.
Woodroof who is desperate to keep himself alive by whatever means necessary, after traveling to Mexico to consult with a doctor who prefers the method of Antoine Béchamp to that of Louis Pasteur (i.e. the idea of keeping the host healthy, as opposed to the medicinal treatment of a sick host). He discovers that certain vitamins and proteins are more beneficial than the doses of AZT he has been taking. So he decides to transport the as yet FDA-unapproved supplements to the United States, and opens the Dallas Buyers Club to help similar patients like him.
The club is a provider of alternative medicines, on average much more effective than the AZT peddled to AIDS patients for an arm and a leg. But even though the supplements pose little to no threat to the members of the club (who pay a fixed amount per month for as much medication as they require), the U.S. government becomes paranoid about their efforts to discredit the efficacy of AZT and therefore shuts them down.
Jared Leto stars as Rayon, who is transgender and becomes unlikely friends with Woodroof, acting as a connector between him and the rest of the individuals in the area affected by HIV/AIDS, most of them gay. The other main role is played by Jennifer Garner, starring as Dr. Eve Saks, who sees the rotten insides of the pharmaceutical industry and is torn between her desire to see her patients healthy and the FDA’s determination not to make the supposedly effective AZT too readily available to the public. Garner is perfect in the role as a curious and empathetic but slightly shy individual who senses her own helplessness in the face of the regulations of a big and callous government.
Woodroof’s desperate search for answers and his humanity in helping others who are in the same, nearly hopeless situation as him, stirs our empathy, and McConaughey, almost unrecognizable here as an emaciated version of the image he has cultivated over the past 15 years, is mostly successful in the slow process of letting us care about his plight.
The movie touches an emotional chord with the audience as you see time ticking off for these characters especially Rayon’s death. Vallée does a wonderful job and no wonder McConaughey has already won couple of awards for his portrayal of Woodroof so does Jared Leto with his sensitive portrayal of Rayon.
My verdict: Please watch it as it is worth every minute and money you spend on this masterpiece.