Lone Ranger – ★★★½
A film that is up for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and more besides at this year’s Oscars ceremony certainly warrants some attention. Does Dallas Buyers Club deserve this attention? Yes.
We get an abrupt introduction to the lifestyle of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) as he is having sex with two women at the rodeo where he hustles money when not being an electrician. Due to an electrical accident he winds up in the hospital leading him to discover that he has AIDS and only 30 days to live. The year was 1985 and Rock Hudson would die that same year of AIDS-related complications becoming one of the first high profile people to die from the disease. Ignorance of the disease and rife homophobia at the time led many to believe if you had AIDS you were homosexual by default. Woodroof has a tough time accepting his diagnosis as he knows too well that it will alienate him from his hill-billy friends and community.
Like most sane people he goes and gets good and drunk trying to forgot about his unwanted news. We then are treated to a research montage where he comes to terms with the disease and pleads for the doctors to let him try a supposed wonder drug AZT. Unsuccessful, he winds up south of the border down Mexico way and comes into contact with “Dr.” Vass (Griffin Dunne) who gets him clean and educates him about some of new treatments for AIDS which aren’t FDA approved in the states. Woodroof then starts smuggling them across the border to help AIDS sufferers get the medication they need.
Like Christian Bale in The Machinist and Michael Fassbender in Hunger, McConaughey has disappeared into his role as Woodroof. While evidently Woodroof was a slender man to begin with, we see the ravages of AIDS on the body. He is not alone in this feat with co-star Jared Leto also shedding the pounds for the role of Rayon. Rayon is a transgender individual who Woodroof befriends during a stay in hospital, making him rethink his views on homosexuals and ultimately becoming his business partner. While Rayon didn’t exist in real life, he serves as a composite of many of the people the film-makers met along the way in the same way Jennifer Garner as Dr. Eve represents the doctors who were unsure about the speed with which drug trials were taking place.
The film tries to examine in a small way how the FDA has a strangle hold on medication within the USA and seems to be more than friendly with many of the drug companies. This is an enormous subject making it understandable as to why the film didn’t delve further into that murky world. The film is a character study of how a man comes to terms with his own mortality and rails again the hand he has been dealt. The core of the film is McConaughey and he is to be commended for the toll he has put his body through in the pursuit of art and shining a light on a man’s life and cause.
It feels at times the film is nodding its hat towards the Oscars with certain scenes jarring compared to the serious subject matter at hand. None the less both McConaughey and Leto are completely deserving of their nominations with their performances being worth the price of admission alone.
In cinemas across Ireland on Friday 7th February 2014