Dallas Buyers Club

March 18, 2014 at 9:48 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I watched the Dallas Buyers Club and was not surprised that a few days later Matthew McConaughey won an oscar for his portrail of Ron Woodroof. McConaughey must have cut his food intake to get his body painfully thin – to look the part of an AIDS patient. As must have Jared Leto – who also won an oscar – for his potrail of Rayon, another AIDS patient.

Ron is a Texan: a blue collar worker, working in big oil, with a conservative attitude towards women and gays, hard drinking, fond of rodeo, and rodeo groupies. It is this last fondness that results in him getting HIV – the AIDS virus.

After passing out, he is diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to life – doctors advise him to get his affairs in order, and reach a state of self acceptance. Ron is a stubborn kind of man, what Texans call ‘onery’ – “I ain’t a homo, and I ain’t checking out” (or words to that effect).

The film takes a poke at the US Food and Drug Agency: the claim is that AIDS epidemic outstripped the systems ability to trial drugs and get them to market. The medical profession is also painted out to be complicit with ‘big pharma’.

People in trouble do what they have always done, they band together and the stubborn ones like Ron find a way to save themselves. You cannot sell drugs not licensed by the FDA; but you can buy them for yourself. Ron and others like him formed buyers clubs all over the US. Ron imports drugs and supplements when he can, and smuggles them in when he can.

The film tosses out the hairy chestnut: what do you do when the law and those charged with enforcing it are killing people. Ron taught himself a lot about immunology and with some help worked out that vitamin and protein derivatives can fortify the body. Many others came to the same conclusion. Yet, the FDA would not allow any to be imported for sale.

It is surprising that no FDA officials were shot – this is Texas after all.

The double blind trials portrayed of AZT (a failed anti-cancer drug with anti-viral properties) killed patients, not only because the dosages were too high, but because half the patents in the trial got a placebo. In the case of AIDS, a double blind trial of anti-AIDS drugs kills half of the patents; in reality, most of the double blind trials were abandoned, as it became obvious who got the placebos. At one stage Ron buys stolen AZT – what did he have to loose.

Ron lived for over 2000 days – much more than the 30 days the hospital expected. Along the way Ron, develops a respect for AIDS sufferers, some he even considers to be his friends – like Rayon. When you walk in another man’s shoes you understand him, even if you still disagree with his life choices. He also prolonged the lives or many others. Sometimes the world needs ‘orney’ people like Ron.

McConaughey does a great job.


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