Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée


Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) takes drugs, sleeps with prostitutes, is verbally abusive, vulgar, and homophobic. Ron is also diagnosed with HIV virus. He has 30 days to live. We learn early on he brought it on himself. Can we have any sympathy for him?

Ron works on the rodeo. He thinks he is as strong as the rodeo bulls, but he is as trapped and helpless as the animals. The more he fights, the more he loses. He rejects the thought of even having HIV in the first place. He is biased against the disease. His intolerance turns against him when his own community rejects him. He loses his job, the trailer he lives in, his friends.

Ron takes advantage of his vicissitude and looks for ways to make money on the side. He brings unapproved drugs from Mexico to the States. When he tries to sell them by himself, he is not as successful as he’d like. Then, Rayon (Jared Leto) enters his life. They become unlikely partners selling the drugs in gay communities. Ron’s entire white, homophobic, hillbilly world views are out the window. Rayon’s openess and vulnerability are stronger than Ron’s homophobia. Rayon wins him over. He proves to him that friendship lasts beyond having fun (unlike his ex-friends who rejected him once they found out about his sickness). Friendship means support, especially when it’s uncomfortable for you.

Is Ron more entrepreneurial or humanistic? He helps many sick people, yes. Thus, he changes the lives of people around him. But he charges money to help many people. He decides to go up against FDA and their disapproval of drugs he’s selling. He can see how those drugs are helping the sick. The will to live and the will to help intertwine. They go together. He combines business and altruism. Just like Ron, we are taken out of our comfort zone, out of the black-and-white area of good and evil and thrown into the grey area of reality. We are forced to readjust our world views about intolerant lowlives like Ron and eventually sympathise with him. Does Ron turn his life around? Maybe he’s not the one who changed. People don’t change. Maybe it is the circumstances that changed. Ron simply adapted to them. After all, there is one sure thing in life that times they are a-changing.

Long days, pleasant nights,

3 thoughts on “…vicissitude

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