Dallas Buyers Club (4 stars)

Dallas Buyers Club

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto star in this impressive biopic of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof

You don't have to cast your mind back far to remember Matthew McConaughey as the star of a slew of mediocre romcoms, a man who seemed to have put his early promise behind him. But over the past year or so he's had an extraordinary run of performances in wonderfully eclectic fare – Bernie, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Magic Mike, Mud and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street – and suddenly we're looking at the most exciting actor in Hollywood. Dallas Buyers Club takes McConaughey onwards and upwards via the meaty, murky, true-life story of Ron Woodroof.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria, C.R.A.Z.Y.), the film sees the promiscuous, chaotic Ron – an electrician and rodeo-rider – diagnosed with HIV in 1985. Given a mere month to live, he begins taking the experimental drug AZT, but it’s only when he’s prescribed a different cocktail of pills by a disgraced physician (Griffin Dunne) that his health begins to improve. In the absence of an effective legal treatment Ron sees the opportunity to cash in. When he begins selling to the gay community via a ‘buyers club’ system (which works by selling memberships rather than the drugs themselves) he's forced to confront his homophobia. Jared Leto plays his transvestite business partner Rayon while Jennifer Garner is a sympathetic doctor.

Dallas Buyers Club highlights the corrosive influence of big pharma on the medical profession but foregrounds Ron’s reinvention and his burgeoning friendship with Rayon. The two make a charming odd couple: Rayon is as delicate as Ron is bullish. The physical transformations of the actors are striking, and Leto and the ever-charismatic McConaughey inhabit their characters inside and out. Vallée's sensitive direction ensures the relationship unfolds with credibility and, while tenderness between the pair might be fleeting, when it’s glimpsed it packs a heavyweight punch.

General release from Fri 7 Feb.

Dallas Buyers Club - Official Trailer

Dallas Buyers Club

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 57min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
  • UK release: 7 February 2014

True story about an electrician who battles the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986.