Tuesday, January 14, 2014


At the recent Golden Globes ceremony Matthew McConaughey seemed to have gained back most of the 50 pounds he shed to play Ron Woodroof, the lead character in Dallas Buyers Club diagnosed with an HIV/AIDS.  His gripping, no holds barred portrayal of a bigoted Texan at-the-brink-of-death earned him a Best Actor award and high praise from critics.  The story is based on Woodruff's real ordeal as a patient struggling to survive beyond the 30 days his doctor tells him he has to live. He launches a plan to smuggle in drugs to help himself and others.  According to Slate Magazine many facts in the story ring true, and some story elements are fabricated.  For instance, there was no Rayon, the transvestite business partner character played by Jared Leto (who also won a Golden Globe), and no Eve (played by Jennifer Garner). They were a composite of people merged for creative license according to Screenwriter Craig Borten, who was lucky enough to interview Woodruff shortly before he died.  But Borten says that some significant aspects of the film's story were authentic-- particularly the transformation of Woodroof from homophobe to compassionate advocate trying to assist AIDS patients with unapproved, but effective pharmaceutical drugs.   Unfortunately, the film inaccurately leads viewers to believe that some drugs were ineffective and dangerous (AZT, which could cost $10,000 a year to use) and some were good (Peptide T., which panned out as a useless treatment).  AZT actually helped prolong life for a year and was later used as part of one of the most effective treatments combined other drugs.
Ron Woodroof
McConaughey and Leto

Peter Staley, who consulted on the film, told The Washington Post that the film wrongly portrays the FDA as the bad guys, trying to
shut down the Dallas Buyers Club. "The FDA was actually fairly cooperative with buyers clubs within a year of their initial formation. "The FDA caved to almost all the demands of AIDS activists and became basically our partner going forward in the 1990s," Staley recalls. "The true story was that we made the system bend, and we used the system and needed the system. I wouldn't be alive today without the companies this film paints as evil, and I wouldn't be alive today without civil servants at the FDA who worked incredibly hard in the 1990s to get these drugs out there quickly."


  1. Leto's and McConaughey's work will initially be remembered for their physical transformations. But it's the work they do inside these brittle bodies that is the true strength.

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