Photo: Courtesy of Focus Features.
Dear Matthew McConaughey, we officially forgive you for Fool's Gold — and Failure to Launch, and, well, you get it. The power of Dallas Buyers Club wipes out your rom-com typecasting and launches you into a full-blown dramatic actor. Not only did you go and make a beautiful movie, but you played the role with quiet beauty of your own.
Dallas Buyers Club is the true (albeit dramatized) story of the Texas electrician, rodeo fiend, and all-around tough guy Ron Woodruff (McConaughey) and his courageous battle with AIDS. When he was diagnosed at the height of the epidemic, Woodruff rebelled against the disease and all of its unfair and bigoted connotations. Once he decided to face his fate head-on, he realized there were very few treatment options available to the masses. AZT, the only drug on the market, impacted users with harsh side effects almost as crippling as the disease itself.
Ever the resourceful guy (and, if we're being frank, ever the swindler), Woodruff begins traveling to Mexico for an illegal cocktail of medications and selling it on the black market. He teams up with an unlikely group of fellow patients, including a transgender woman played by Jared Leto. Leto plays this role hauntingly, giving everyone (yes, even the audience) a chilling look at the actual human cost of the AIDS epidemic.
Much of the movie's press has centered around McConaughey's severe weight loss to play the dying man, and his portrayal lives up to the hype in every way. Especially for those of us who haven't yet seen the ravages of the disease in person, shots of his skin-and-bones frame will shake you to the core. There's plenty of anger to be had here, too: anger at the doctors who prescribed dying men and women a medicine that would only make them sicker; anger at the health companies who refused to aggressively explore alternative treatment options; and anger at the Dallas police who repeatedly attempt to break up the buyers club and prevent Woodruff from delivering drugs and supplements to those in need.
We could give you many reasons why we loved Dallas Buyers Club, but we'll keep harking back to McConaughey. We're pretty convinced he's one of the only actors that could make Woodruff's character not only palatable, but enjoyable. Maybe it's that all-too-familiar Southern drawl, but he manages to knock it out of the park even without relying on his good looks and killer abs. Today, we're thanking him not only for being him, but for bringing us a beautiful story of hope and survival.
Dallas Buyers Club is in theaters now.