Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Dallas Buyers Club


Dallas Buyers Club (2013) As I watched this story develop, I was struck with an odd thought. In some sad and ironic way, AIDS was the best thing that ever happened to Ron Woodroof.

Think about it. At the beginning of the story he is a pathetic, dissolute loser hanging around rodeos. AIDS was just the icing on the cake that someone left out in the rain too long. But almost from the minute he was diagnosed, told he had thirty days to live, he was galvanized. He found depths and determination within himself that no one, not even him, would have ever suspected. AZT is the cure? He wangles a way to get AZT. AZT is poison? He researches like a crazy man, finds out there are other drugs being tested in Mexico, the Netherlands, Japan, and China, countries where the government treats its citizens like adults who can make up their own minds. And he ends up an entrepreneur, saving a lot of lives. And lives for seven more years, at a time when the average life span from diagnosis to coffin was six months.

I understand the FDA’s point of view. It’s fucked up, but I understand it. The agency was established to protect the public from quackery, from drugs that did nothing or worse, could actually kill you. But once you give an agency power like that, they will grab all they can grab, extend their mandate, and limit what citizens can do. Why is it that in Mexico you can walk up to a pharmacist and tell her what you want, but here, you have to get a prescription? So they can retain their tight hold on your balls, that’s why. It’s criminal. I should have the right to put anything into my body that I want to, and I include marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. I am in favor of legalizing all drugs, unless it can be proven that they will make you into a homicidal maniac. And I don’t believe there is such a drug, despite the scare stories about angel dust.

This film was made on a low budget and in only 25 days. But Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto had some preparation before the cameras rolled. Matt lost 47 pounds and Jared lost 30. Now, both of them were terrific in the roles. I haven’t seen enough of the other Oscar nominees to know if these were the “best” performances” of the year, but they were certainly good enough to be on the ballot. And I have to say that I find it alarming when actors go through such physical exertions for a role. It’s their right, of course, but one of these days somebody is going to die from going to extremes like this. Matt’s vision began to fail, for cryin’ out loud, and he could barely run thirty feet. Doing stuff like this can be catastrophic.

Okay, having vented on that stuff, I will say that it’s a terrific movie. If I hadn’t read the credits, I would never have realized that the man I saw on Oscar night was the shriveled little fellow, Rayon, who becomes Ron’s best friend. It’s a journey, a total redneck who has no use for homosexual men, comes to understand that they are just like anyone else. It’s self-discovery, finding that he can do things he never dreamed he could. Highly recommended.