When important events happen in our world we have a natural inclination to tell stories about it. What is interesting about the 1980s AIDS crisis is that there was no single event to galvanize around so cultural media, especially movies, have to tell a variety of different stories, frequently personal ones. Dallas Buyers Club is another solid entry into the puzzle that is the AIDS crisis. Focusing on the story of Ron Woodroof, a heterosexual Texas electrician who is diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live. After finding a cocktail of vitamins and peptides that works, he begins a battle with US big pharma business and the FDA to get these life saving drugs into the hands of dying people like himself.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s ability to take glossy Hollywood stars and boil them down to relatable essences continues to amaze. While McConaughey has been blazing trail with his work of late, and his work has been excellent, he still does tend to play the same kind of characters again and again. In this film, however, he is the centre of the film while still being understated enough to be real, and let his co-stars shine, which they certainly do.

Jared Leto also seems to have lost the ego, playing cross-dressing Rayon without resting on stereotypes and caricatures, while Jennifer Garner’s usual wide-eyed innocence is put to excellent use. Even she has more depth than usual.

Most importantly, however, is the roundabout highlight this puts on the American drug system. People were dying and there were less money making options available, so the drug companies worked with the FDA to stomp them out. While this happened, people died. That’s the true heartbreak of this story.

Is Dallas Buyers Club essential TIFF viewing?

This is not only essential TIFF viewing, this is essential life viewing. The AIDS “crisis” might be over, but the scars last and people are still being infected at an alarming rate. This is not only a good film, but one that puts a human face on the epidemic.

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