Surviving AIDS

Dallas Buyers Club Focus Features Rating: 18A 117 minutes

Dallas Buyers Club is based on the real story of a Texas cowboy/electrician and lowlife named Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey. In 1985, heavy into booze, sex and drugs, and very homophobic, he finds out he has the HIV virus and told he has 30 days to live. But he starts investigating the disease and finds help in a Mexican clinic with life-saving drugs that are not approved in the United States. He figures he can make money selling these drugs to others in a similar situation, most of whom are gay.

To get around the legalities he starts a club where, once you pay your $400 membership, the drugs are free. This puts him into conflict with the Food and Drug Administration, which approves drugs and is slow to do so for the people suffering from AIDS. Jennifer Garner plays a sympathetic doctor and Jared Leto, playing a gay crossdresser, becomes a close friend. Both McConaughey and Leto are the odds on favourites to win Oscars for their roles.

It’s a gritty, realistic film and not always pleasant. McConaughey’s performance, for which he lost 40 pounds and looks it, is compelling. But it’s the acting, the portrayal of his character’s underlying humanity, that puts the performance over.

A note of thanks to Carnival Cinemas for bringing this movie and others, like the excellent Philomena, that might not otherwise play on the big screen in Red Deer.

Rating: five deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.