Just about everything is right with Dallas Buyers Club, beginning with Matthew McConaughey’s literally transformative portrayal. You’ve read the stories, seen the photographs: The actor lost close to 40 pounds to play Woodroof – and he’s a chilling sight. Even as the film begins, when Woodroof is ostensibly healthy, scrapping around behind the bleachers in a clinch with not one, but two, rodeo groupies, he’s not looking so great. By the time he is diagnosed, he’s a scarecrow, and he turns progressively more gaunt and ghostly as the story goes on.
But he never loses the fire in his eyes. Woodroof lived for seven years following that initial prognosis, hustling and scamming and looking to keep himself alive, and then setting up a thriving, one-stop shopping center for antiviral meds, vitamin and protein cocktails, and non-FDA-approved treatments for the HIV-positive community.
McConaughey’s performance isn’t just about the weight loss. It’s about gaining compassion, even wisdom, and it’s awesome.