This past week, we were fortunate enough to attend the LA premiere of Focus Features new film, The Dallas Buyers Club. The film centers on Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic cowboy from Texas who contracted HIV through unprotected sex and drug abuse during the 80s, a time when the disease was commonly associated with the gay community. Woodroof was told he had only 30 days to live.
Often films get caught up in preaching unfortunate politics and they forget the soul of the characters and the struggle seen through their eyes. What’s beautiful about The Dallas Buyers Club is we do follow Woodroof encountering bullshit obstacles with obtaining medication, realizing it was actually killing him, and having to find an alternative solution so that he could continue his life. Imagine doing that while facing judgment by one’s closest friends about a disease that many were still so unfamiliar with. At that point many people would invite death and give in to all of their regrets, but instead Woodroof fights to live.
During the film, we Woodroof transform as his heart reluctantly opens while forming both a business partnership and an eventual friendship with a transsexual man named Rayon (Jared Leto). By creating the Dallas Buyers Club in the movie, the characters were able to provide an alternative source to traditional AZT medication that many people could not afford. Sure, it all may have started as a selfish endeavor to live and make money, but ultimately it would go on to help so many suffering with HIV. Eventually, medical research would also find AZT to be more harmful than helpful in initial, high dosages.
We wanted to acknowledge and share the spirit of Ron Woodroof as a man who took matters into his own hands and educated himself when a flawed system turned its back. His public battle with the government brought new awareness to the disease, and that in turn helped so many suffering with HIV to attain a level of care otherwise unavailable. By no means was Woodroof perfect, but when he stumbled upon an opportunity to change and help, he did.
Ron passed away in 1992– 6 years after he found out he had contracted HIV.