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'Dallas Buyers Club' is top of the line

'Dallas Buyers Club' is top of the line


Ron Woodroof (a shockingly thin Matthew McConaughey) hangs out at rodeos, goes after the ladies two at a time and can be counted on to bust a gut when his pals tell homophobic jokes.

So Woodroof is outraged when a blood test reveals that he’s infected with the HIV virus. And he gets even angrier when told that he has only 30 days to live — an unsettling but realistic diagnosis given the time period, the mid-1980s.

Out of spite as much as desperation, the self-styled cowboy sets out to prove the doctors wrong — first by illegally getting his hands on a new but problematic drug called AZT, then by smuggling anti-viral meds out of Mexico.

Setting up a club to sell the meds, Woodroof soon realizes he’s not the ideal liaison to the gay community. So he enlists someone considerably better qualified: Rayon (Jared Leto), a flirty transsexual whose struggle to survive echoes his own. It’s not long before the unlikely business partners become best friends.

At once a fascinating character study and a scathing indictment of the role of the medical-pharmaceutical complex in exacerbating the AIDS crisis, the fact-based “Dallas Buyers Club” is one of the best films of the year.

Working from a screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, director Jean-Marc Vallée (“The Young Victoria”) delivers a stylistically gritty film that might have been made during the era it depicts — if not for the fact that Hollywood was notoriously slow to acknowledge the reality of AIDS.

McConaughey is terrific as a man who refuses to let other people tell him how to live — or die. But arguably, Leto is even more impressive, deftly sidestepping caricature to get to Rayon’s essence.

This is the rare film that not only entertains, but enlightens.

What “Dallas Buyers Club” • Three and a half stars out of four • Rating R • Content Language, sexual content, nudity, drug use • Run time 1:57

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