HOLLYWOOD—Some may enter the theater having a preconceived notion of what the drama “Dallas Buyers Club” is all about, but throw away that misconception.  There is a reason Matthew McConaughey is receiving accolades for his work as HIV and AIDS activist Ronald Woodroof who on his death bed found a way to live longer than what most doctors expected.  McConaughey is transformative in the role, not just physically, but in every possible aspect.

The picture based on a true story, follows Ron as he discovers he has the HIV virus.  It’s a game-changing moment for the rodeo cowboy/electrician who is a womanizer and homophobe. He is forced to have a mirror held to his face and feel the blunt intolerance that he has delivered to so many others.

It’s a hard dose of reality to watch in the picture, as that ‘fear’ that so many people have about the virus and AIDS itself is the forefront of the picture. We fear what we don’t know, and because of this character and those surrounding him in this epic fight to tackle the FDA and the medical arena, we learn so much more.

For starters, “Dallas Buyers Club” is a journey; its not as one-note as some would suspect it to be, furthermore, the transition Ron makes after being diagnosed with the disease is not as rushed as some have argued in the movie; in my opinion the picture paces itself just perfectly involving the character. It’s his encounter with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender AIDS patient that brings that emotional heart to the picture that makes the audience root for this underdog. Leto is perfection in a role that is gutsy, decisive and heartbreaking also.

The actor becomes Rayon in a way that is almost frightening.  As he and Ron become buddies, they decide to tackle the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical companies in a way that I have never seen done in cinema before. Quite honestly, it’s scary to see what ‘really’ transpires behind the veil. Actress Jennifer Garner does sensational work as Dr. Eve Saks, a woman caught in the middle between medical ethics and the crusaders hoping to bring them down to their knees. Her first encounter with Woodroof is indeed memorable to say the least.

The biggest thrill in watching this movie as a spectator was discovering the shady dealing of the FDA and the health industry as a whole. It’s an industry that so many of us forget, it’s a business first. It is all about making money, as much as we’d like to believe that’s not the case.  Charging $10,000 for a medication that as it turns out causes more harm than help, left me speechless; it forces the audience to think. Are the things that we’re being prescribed to help a particular illness we have really helping to halt the illness or the symptoms of that particular disease. Watching the movie will leave the audience questioning the integrity of the health care industry as a whole; I’ve always been skeptical about the pharmaceutical companies, but it places a polar lens on an industry that could be involved in more shady dealings than what one would suspect.

“Dallas Buyers Club” also addresses the issue of tolerance and intolerance when it comes to homosexuality and the HIV/AIDS stigma. People can turn on a person in a matter of minutes as Ron discovers like a tornado charging at you at full-speed; its frightening, but reality. McConaughey delivers some of his best work to date, which makes him a surefire Oscar-contender alongside, Leto who in my opinion, may be tough to beat; there are two particular scenes in the picture that scream Oscar in my opinion, and the Academy won’t be able to overlook them.  Garner whose role is not as ‘showy’ as some would like it to be, delivers the face of reason, being caught between a hard place and a rock and having to make a choice, where the outcome will be devastating no matter what.

This is a movie that needs to be seen, not just because it educates the audience on the issue involving HIV and AIDS, but the treatments that came at a time of an epidemic. But more importantly the film studies the life of a man who did everything in his power to change the medical scope of treating patients with the deadly disease and how he nearly brought the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies to its knees at the same time. Simply put, “Dallas Buyers Club” is a masterpiece!

By LaDale Anderson