I didn’t know much about this movie when I saw it last night, but I ended up enjoying it. The script is full of clever, funny lines and the acting is wonderful. There are also a couple of messages that could be appreciated by viewers on the right.
I won’t tell you everything that happened, but the movie is about a man named Ron Woodruff (who really existed), played by Matthew McConaughey, living with AIDS in the 1980′s. He finds out about a trial at the local hospital for a treatment called AZT. The trial is taking place over the course of about a year, but his days are numbered. He doesn’t have time to risk taking a placebo, and he doesn’t have time to wait to see if the medication works and gets approved by the FDA, so he illegally obtains the drug from a hospital worker. We already see his frustration with the government, a frustration shared by a doctor at that hospital, played by Jennifer Garner. He goes to a medical clinic in Mexico to get more AZT, and then learns that drug has not been helping him. He gets new medication that is not approved by the FDA and takes a large amount back to Dallas both for his personal use and to distribute. So he can’t technically be called a drug dealer, he and a fellow AIDS patient named Rayon (Jared Leto) start a club that people have to pay to be members of, and then give them the medication for free. Eve, the doctor, finds out but is sympathetic to their cause and lets them get away with it.
Over and over, the audience hears complaints about government regulations. The FDA is determined to stop Woodruff. Even the IRS gets involved, auditing him. He calls his lawyer and says he wants a restraining order “against the government and their goddamned FDA”. It’s a funny scene, but also sad because we know Woodruff’s motives aren’t bad. He wants to help himself live with the disease, and help others, too. The movie touches on “Big Pharma”, but even if one doesn’t want to get into that, there is much ranting and raving against the government to entertain conservatives and libertarians. The portrayal of the IRS might also make people upset about their recent targeting of conservative organizations happy. There are also questions raised that should interest all of us, such as: Why shouldn’t people who are already terminally ill be able to try anything to help themselves?
There’s more: Libertarians and conservatives obviously believe that the freer the market in health care, the better it will be. In the situation portrayed in the film, people have to pay to receive treatment. But Woodruff wouldn’t be able to keep getting the medicine to them without money. He also cares: towards the end of the movie, he wants to sell his car to stay afloat long enough to help as many people as possible. Generosity is still possible even if people’s goal is to make money. But people also need incentive to produce or provide things for people. With a free market in health care, health professionals would have the incentive to provide the best care they could to as many people as they could, and the prices of doctors, devices, and treatments would decrease significantly. Many already do the best they can for their patients, and some would volunteer their services at times, but they still have to earn money at some point. Now, these ideas are tangential to the story, but one of the reasons I liked this movie is that it can get people thinking about all this.
Now for the part that conservatives might be wary of: Jared Leto delivers a touching performance of a gay man who dresses like a woman and feels he should have been in a straight woman’s body. Woodruff is straight; he contracted HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse. Most of the people he is helping, though, are gay. In the first few scenes of the movie we see that he and his friends make fun of gay people and don’t want to be around them, and it’s very insulting to Woodruff that people think he is sick because he had homosexual relations. However, he becomes more tolerant; he sees his gay acquaintances, especially Rayon, as people just like him who want to be live as long as they can with their disease. I want to assure you that this movie is in no way LGBT propaganda. In fact, it shows the audience that what the gay community did to itself is terrible. Free love ain’t free! as I like to say. The danger of promiscuity, when it comes to both gay and straight sex, is obvious in this film. Yes, one of the main characters is gay – or really transgender. Yes, Woodruff gets past his homophobia. Love and acceptance are a part of the story. That does not at all mean conservatives who hate “gay pride” or “gay culture” cannot like this movie. In fact, it’s perfect for conservatives who aren’t into “gay pride” or the sleeping around that is so prevalent in the gay community, but still have no problem accepting gay, bisexual, and transgender people in general – and for gay conservatives, too.
Dallas Buyers Club definitely deserves the six Oscar nominations it has earned. I’d recommend it to anyone – but I think it’ll especially be appreciated by people who have lately been fed up with the government.