Dallas Buyers Club (2013) (R)

"Dallas Buyers Club" more than the transformative performances it showcases so forwardly, is a transformative movie about a man who learns to stop being such a jerk. How does he learn this? He gets AIDS, naturally.
Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), is a rodeo man. He's a rootin', tootin', shootin' machine who thinks, like most of his cohorts, that the worst insult he could ever be called is a homosexual. Imagine his surprise when he contracts HIV which then turns into AIDS.
Right from the beginning of the movie, Ron is portrayed as an primal man. He has sex with a girl under the bleachers at a bull riding competition. The camera and sound make sure to note the way he grunts which is then juxtaposed against the bulls grunting.
He cons some men out of money and gets a cop to protect him. Ron gets around.
But when he gets back to his apartment, he passes out on the floor. Not thinking anything of it, Ron shows up to work the next day and is sent to the hospital when a fuse box explodes in his face. It's here that he finds out he has AIDS, which comes as quite a surprise to him.
He thinks that the doctors are playing a cruel joke on him or, even worse, that they're calling him gay. The bigotry that we see is all too obviously going to change now that Ron has a disease primarily effecting homosexuals.
Determined to get the better of the disease, once he's gotten to the point that he can accept it, Ron does loads of research and comes across an experimental drug called AZT. Ron figures, in a flashback, that he got HIV when he had unprotected sex with what is more than likely a prostitute. For much of the movie, it feels like a commercial for protected sex...and it very well could be.
AZT is in the beginning phases and Ron is not able to get his hands on any; but this is a resourceful guy.
Given thirty days to live, Ron bribes one of the hospital janitors to deal him out some AZT, which keeps him alive longer than the allocated fortnight plus.
But then AZT is locked up and Ron is given the address to a doctor in Mexico where he can be treated.
He decides to visit, pausing only to cry for himself as he does so.
In Mexico, the doctor, who has been stripped of his medical license, tells Ron that AZT is a toxic drug that destroys every cell it comes in contact with. In its place he offers some healthy 'vitamins' and a protein that gets injected. Ron gets better but wants to bring that ex-doctor's non FDA approved drugs back into American to sell them—he is met at the border by the FDA.
Ron can't be put down.
He smuggles the drugs in and then starts a club with the help of a transsexual young drug addict named Rayon (Jared Leto). It's clear that Rayon will help Ron see past his own stereotypes.
Being a straight men, Ron is very opposed to telling people that he has AIDS; but his dirty secret doesn't take long to circulate.
Ron has kind of a thing for one of the doctors who's trying to treat him, Eve (Jennifer Garner). Ron has to keep his head above water while the FDA try to shut his charitable actions down.
Ron's transformation is not unnatural, but it does take a lot to turn a homophobic man into a friendly kind of guy. His profane, illogically angry at times, and full of himself; but don't worry because he's not an anti-hero, that much all the posters and even that name of the movie give away.
What is celebrated here is the weight loss by McConaughey and Leto. Neither of them are incredibly enjoyable to watch, though the right elements are there. Leto is a sassy, cross-dressing boy with no real motive. He seems to want to get better, he seems to be in it for the money—it's a very confusing character and one that's only there to move Ron along on his way.
"Dallas Buyers Club" tries too hard on each count. It forces you to love and hate the mood swings of its character. Its string-plucking moments are all too much—it has a very unprofessional feeling inside a hipster-ness.
The performances are solid, yet the movie is somewhat forgettable—it's a good attempt.

Score: ★★½

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