Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

Life certainly wasn’t fair or overly kind to Ron Woodroof—a hard-living and fun-loving rodeo cowboy diagnosed with AIDS. But you play the hand you’re dealt. As an authentic character study set in the ‘80s, Dallas Buyers Club doesn’t exist without Matthew McConaughey. No one else can fill those cowboy boots.

It’s not fair that McConaughey is this good.

After finally deciding to put his down-home charm to use by acting in quality films, Matthew McConaughey is fully committed to his realistic portrayal of Ron Woodroof. It’s about fucking time. McConaughey was impressive in Mud, but he reaches an unbelievable depth with this performance in Dallas Buyers Club.


Please name another actor that could have pulled off this role.

I’m struggling to even make a suggestion.

At the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, Ron Woodroof fucked rodeo groupies bareback without a second thought. When he’s officially diagnosed with the disease, Woodroof is given only 30 days left to live. “Ain’t nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days.” Ron Woodroof merely wipes his ass with that diagnosis in a thoroughly enjoyable scene that displays exactly why no other actor could pull off this particular Southern not-so-gentleman. This role was made for McConaughey.

Although Dallas Buyers Club stands firmly on a soapbox for long stretches, the problems persistent with the pharmaceutical industry (especially at that specific time) were well-taken yet too clear-cut in their presentation. Those who are good and bad are distinctly defined. Once Ron Woodroof starts to actually believe is diagnosis, he looks to educate himself in order to learn everything he can about the disease and possible treatments. The only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration was AZT, which kills every living cell and wrecks the immune system. Woodroof pays off a hospital staff member to smuggle AZT from the hospital’s double-blind study experiment and it brings him to the brink of death.

AZT is poison…at least in this portrayal. Despite the potentially fatal results, the hospital is still willfully pumping the poison into the veins of half of the patients in the trial since they’re lining their pockets with the profits. Ron Woodroff discovers a drug cocktail of vitamins from a doctor in Mexico that is illegal in the United States because it would impact those making money from the current state of the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, Ron Woodroof starts smuggling these drugs into the country and creates the Dallas Buyers Club to help treat other AIDS patients while making a fortune in the process.


Jared Leto joins McConaughey with an authentic, heartfelt performance as Rayon—who is a transgender AIDS patient that plays perfectly off of Woodroof. Although McConaughey plays the dominant role and outshines everyone when he’s on-screen, Jared Leto similarly transforms into his character with an incredible level of commitment to make this an interesting and entertaining character study on two completely separate points on the spectrum. McConaughey plays a manly man that exudes charisma and confidence in any situation. Leto looks like a porcelain doll while portraying the drug-addicted transgender with a sassy, take-no-shit style. Even though Requiem for a Dream seemed like the absolute high point of his career, Leto is considerably more impressive with this outstanding out-of-the-box performance.

The interaction between these characters is the heart of the movie. At times, these moments are hilarious, tragic, and even offensive. Jennifer Garner is adequate in her role as the only good doctor, and there’s even a nice Steve Zahn cameo as a compassionate cop friend of Ron Woodroof. Regardless of what issues you might have with Dallas Buyers Club, the acting certainly cannot be a complaint.

Matthew McConaughey sincerely deserves an Oscar for this performance. In a crowded field of phenomenal performances from other actors this year, McConaughey may very well take home the hardware. Selfishly, I don’t know if I want him to win. Life shouldn’t be this easy for McConaughey after wasting so many years shamelessly cashing checks from shitty romantic comedies with Kate Hudson. I actually like this Matthew McConaughey. And I don’t want him chasing an easy paycheck again if he wins the Oscar.

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Would McConaughey still have the same incentive to choose these interesting roles in quality movies?

There’s just a certain intangible that Matthew McConaughey brings to Dallas Buyers Club that makes this movie infinitely likable and enjoyable. If I had to issue one complaint, this movie didn’t know how to end. That’s not a problem unique to Dallas Buyers Club, but the aimless direction near the end stalled an otherwise amazing movie. Considering the case that this movie is attempting to make, the point would have been driven home much harder with a crisp wrap-up of the story’s primary characters.

Also, off-screen deaths remain a monumental pet peeve of mine. I’m not spoiling anything with that statement because I’m not pinpointing a particular character, but this is point of contention that I find unjustifiable from the perspective of a writer. When you’ve invested time and emotion into actually caring about a character, it’s hard not to feel robbed once that character is removed as a result of events that happen away from the audience’s view. The absence of that emotional impact is the only aspect that really holds back Dallas Buyers Club from being a nearly perfect, flawless film.

Treasure the time you share with these characters. As in real life, nothing lasts forever.


4.5 out of 5 stars

  1. jamessahn1 says:

    Jarod Leto is spectacular in Dallas Buyer’s Club

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