By Elizabeth U. Okereke
As Oscar season rolls further away from our minds, it's hard to remember anything other than epic A-list selfies, pizza parties and breakout stars decked out in Prada gowns. Yet among this years Oscar buzz were a slew of knockout films in the Best Picture category, most notably the biographical drama, Dallas Buyers Club.
Dallas Buyers Club tells the heart-wrenching and powerful story of Ron Woodroff (Mathew McConaughey), a down and dirty Texan electrician who is living his life surviving off of bull riding, booze, gambling, and loose women. Ron soon finds out that his daredevil lifestyle has dire consequences as he is diagnosed with HIV in the early 1980’s, at the utter height of the AIDS epidemic in America. And in true cowboy form Ron decides that if he’s going out, he isn’t going out without a fight. He decides to take his medical care into his own hands and does research on both legal and illegal drugs to find his own elixir.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee makes a triumphant premiere with this film, pushing himself into the ranks of modern film’s very best. Seasoned actors Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner return to the big screen with vigor, tenacity, and tenderness. Leto gives a striking performance as Rayon, a HIV positive gay man who forms a unique bond with Ron Woodroff. Jennifer Garner glows on screen as the determined and compassionate Dr. Eve Saks, who treats both Ron and Rayon all while looking to do the right thing in an era of unknown consequences.
The movie pushes the issue of AIDS into the modern era and it also brings forth the issues of the treatment of the LGBT community. Ron himself is homophobic to a fault. When first told about his diagnosis, he makes a dig at Rock Hudson, the famed actor who died of AIDS in 1985, saying “You kidding me? You think this is some Rock Hudson nonsense, don't you?”.
The movie raises the question of the validity of his actions but also reels the audience in, allowing us to slowly walk along with Ron Woodroff on his journey to deliverance. Anyone who chooses to watch this film will find themselves rooting for Ron as he suffers through the consequences of his actions. You might even find yourself smiling at Ron’s stubborn attitude, often callous and informal but well directed at whomever he is giving it too.
This loving and heartbreaking story delivers "A" grade acting and shows that in times of desperation, death and desolation, we start to open our eyes and see what really matters, and as in the case of Ron Woodroof, we start to shed our masks. Ultimately a story of resilience and transformation, Dallas Buyers Club takes you on a bull ride with a man given only 30 days to live, and keeps you on until the very end.