There’s complexity in a loud-mouthed homophobe being diagnosed with AIDS, then using his search for treatment to make money off others’ treatment. Flagrantly, like he’s enjoying it, meanwhile exposing institutional disregard for the AIDS crisis. But Dallas Buyers Club tries that slick turnabout: making a hero of Ron Woodroof. He’s a classic Clint Eastwood renegade, flaunting the rules, but he’s not entirely standing up for the common man. He was an instrument of polarizing forces, fighting against everything: his virus, his doctors, the drug regulators at the FDA. Matthew McConaughey is the only A-lister credible enough as a Texas rodeo clown; his drawl sounds lived in, and he doesn’t push too hard to be likable. He’s a lot skuzzier now than in those Kate Hudson movies.
Even a Ron Woodroof can be redeemed, the movie posits, with the angelic Jared Leto to help him understand his LGBT brothers and sisters. It’s good that Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack have given weight to Leto’s character Rayon, to provide a queer perspective against Woodroof’s huffing and puffing. The movie begins better than it ends; after it all, his monthly drug buyers (mostly gay men) cheer for him like he’d been awarded sainthood. We admire the method but question the man.
For Your Consideration: Matthew McConaughey.