We watched Dallas Buyers Club tonight, the 2013 film that boasts Oscar-winning performances from Matthew McConaughey (best actor) and Jared Leto (supporting actor). [From Wikipedia] The film is based on the life of real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, and distributing them to fellow sufferers by establishing the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
My take? I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof character (portrayed as a macho, womanizing, homophobic, rodeo-loving cowboy*). But hey – it’s Hollywood’s first major AIDS film since ‘Philadelphia’ (1985). It illustrates the challenges when people are dying in an epidemic, and there are no good treatment options available. The drug AZT is vilified in the movie, but actually became a key part of HIV combination medicines later on (in a much lower dosage, though). The FDA also gets a rough treatment in the movie, but some activists today contend that the FDA caved to almost all of their demands, and basically became their partner going forward in the 1990s.
*Some of Woodroof’s close friends and associates have said he was never homophobic, and had no problems being around gay men.