The Matthew McConaughey Renaissance (or the McConaughey-ssance as it's now being known) continues to grow stronger and stronger with what is undoubtedly the greatest performance in the actor's career to date. Based on a true story, he plays Ron Woodward, a man who likes to live a little too close to the edge, a big fan of the drugs, the booze and the women. He's also a nasty homophobe, and when he's diagnosed with HIV in the mid-1980's - right in the middle of the AIDS panic, when it was automatically assumed to be a gay-only disease - his entire life is turned upside down.
Turning to illegal means to import unapproved drugs that could help extend his 30 day life expectancy, Woodward quickly sets up a little business by helping out fellow HIV and AIDS sufferers (most of whom are homosexuals), with thanks to his new business partner and transvestite Rayon, played by Jared Leto. Then there's Jennifer Garner as his doctor who doesn't approve of his misdeeds but recognises that it may be helping him, and Steve Zahn as his former best friend who has some real trouble dealing with Woodward's plight.
Storywise, there's nothing much new here. McConaughey plays a bigot who gets his eyes opened by a life-changing event, which is something we've seen in movies countless times before. We're supposed to feel good when he doesn't completely flip out in the company of a homosexual, with his homophobia played up for laughs, which doesn't always sit easy. But the rest of the movie is handled with a deft touch, thanks to a script which doesn't go the Philadelphia route and become another sad movie about AIDS. Instead, Dallas Buyers Club manages to inject some humour into what might have been a harrowing, purely depressing story.
The real reason to watch Dallas Buyers Club is the performance, with McConaughey and Leto undergoing some drastic physical transformations for their art, and both coming out with career highlights. They, like the movie they're in, are truly inspiring, captivating and heart-breaking. You might not think that a movie about a man slowly dying of AIDS would end up being so fantastically feel-good, but that is the odd power that Dallas Buyers Club possesses.