Dallas Buyers Club, a recently released critically acclaimed film starring Matthew McConaughey, tells a moving story about a man suffering from AIDS.
McConaughey’s character, Ronald Woodroof, represents a stereotypical 1985 Dallas “redneck.” He takes part in bull riding, heavy drinking, casual sex, and frequent hard drug use. He enjoys his extreme lifestyle until he is informed he is HIV positive and had only has 30 days to live. Ron is in denial that he has a disease that only “faggots” have, as he is incredibly homophobic and associates the disease with homosexuality. However, after extensive research, he realizes his diagnosis is likely true. His research also brings him to discover the drug AZT, the most effective drug at treating AIDS at the time. However, the drug is currently only available in clinical trials in the United States, so he goes through illegal means to get access to it.
Woodroof’s leads on the AZT drug leads him to Mexico, where he discovers other unapproved drugs that treat AIDS and smuggles the drugs back to the U.S. for both his own personal use and to sell to others infected with HIV. Woodroof becomes business partners with Rayon, a transvestite who he met in the hospital. Rayon has contacts with the gay community, so together they begin selling drugs, calling their business the “Dallas Buyers Club.” Participants of the “club” have to pay $400 to be a member or to receive the drugs. Through his business partnership and eventual friendship with Rayon, Ron’s homophobic mindset gradually fades and the two prolong the lives of hundreds of HIV positive victims.
The FDA and Dr. Sevard, Ron’s doctor, eventually become aware that the two are selling these unapproved drugs to the public. Dr. Sevard believes the only way to see the efficacy of the drugs is through clinical trials. But, it is clear that Ron, Rayon, and their “club members” would have likely died long ago without these drugs.
The FDA eventually sues Ron and shuts down his business, but many, including the judge, doctors, and the “members,” are sympathetic to the purpose of Ron’s business.
“Not only were his treatments well researched, but they were also effective,” states Zoe Moss ’17. “He and all the other people with HIV/AIDS in that time should have been able to get any treatment that would extend their lives or make them more comfortable. In a time when no one knew much about HIV/AIDS drugs, anything that was helpful should have been used.”
I found the movie to be very moving because McConaughey’s character displays significant character development throughout the film. At the start, he is living fast, homophobic, and close-minded. He believes it is impossible for him to be HIV+ since he has never engaged in homophobic sex. Furthermore, upon meeting Rayon in the hospital, he treats her poorly for being a transvestite. However, through his partnership with Rayon and research on the disease, he becomes more educated about the causes of the disease and more open-minded to the gay community.
“I thought the movie really portrayed how ignorance and fear factored into prejudice,” states Sarah Tobin ’17. “Ron was a homophobe because that’s the stigma he grew up with. But once he got to know Rayon, he realized he’s not so different.”
So make sure to add Dallas Buyers Club to your movie bucket list! It is a captivating film that speaks against the stigma of homosexuals, AIDS, and illegal drug use. Powerful and moving, this movie is sure to leave you feeling inspired and desperately wanting to wear a cowboy hat.