Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a bisexual man, addicted to drugs, who gets infected with the HIV virus and develops AIDS when the epidemic was starting. After receiving a grim diagnosis—thirty days at most to live-- Ron educates himself about the disease, its prognosis, and treatments available.
Ron has amassed some serious cash by way of gambling, so he decides to buy his way into a clinical study for AZT. When his supplier dries up, Ron is given the name of a doctor in Mexico who supposedly can help him. With no other choice, Ron travels to Mexico where he is treated by said doctor with a cocktail of vitamins and proteins to strengthen his immune system. After a few months, Ron is still alive and ready to bring the business back to the States where these drugs aren’t approved by the FDA.
With the help of fake identities, Ron Woodroof imports alternative medicines used for treatment of AIDS in other countries; drugs not approved by the FDA, which render their import with commercial purpose illegal. Ron founds a monthly membership club to sell those alternative treatments to AIDS patients to palliate symptoms, which haven’t been addressed by AZT.
As the business grows so does its reputation and the harassment of government entities like the FDA and the IRS, intent on dismantling the business one way or another. Finally, Ron brings his case to court where he loses but makes a statement nonetheless.
Dallas Buyers Club has grit, and a dry, dark humor that makes the movie more palatable given its topic. There’s sweetness in this movie by means of the friendship-business partnership that Ron develops with Rayon (Jared Leto), but this movie doesn’t have the gravitas that Philadelphia had in its time.
In common with Philadelphia, however, are the magnificent performances of McConaughey and Leto in their roles--as Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington’s were in their time. Thanks to them, Dallas Buyers Club doesn’t devolve into standard melodrama; in other words, their performances make the movie. McConaughey suffered a remarkable physical transformation for this role and it does pay off because it gives credibility to his plight.
Also noteworthy in her role is Jennifer Garner as doctor Eve Saks, possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen from her and quite a departure from her overly sweet roles.
Dallas Buyers Club has a positive message amidst its grim topic. As McConaughey said in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes for Best Actor, “this movie was never about dying". It’s true, the movie documents the refusal of a man to die taking an untested drug. In his quest, he gave hope to other patients ailing with AIDS.