This is Matthew McConaughey’s movie through and through. We saw what the surfer dude could do in the histrionics department in last year’s Mud. Then there was The Wolf of Wall Street earlier this year. His mentoring speech as Mark Hanna in the film was priceless. And now with Dallas Buyers Club he has delivered on that promise and how! Apart from physically transforming himself (he lost 21 kg for the role), it is the way he takes over the character that is spellbinding. The golden good looks are obliterated for this grandstanding cowboy. McConaughey captures every nuance of Ron Woodroof’s journey from racist bigot to inclusive businessman, from parochial to evangelist, from traditionalist to new wave in fascinating detail.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Woodroof, an electrician and rodeo enthusiast in Texas who discovers he has AIDS and that he has 30 days to live. While the clinically approved AZT makes him worse, the alternative treatment prescribed to him in Mexico makes him better. The drugs prescribed for him in Mexico are not approved by the FDA and so he cannot buy it in the US. Woodroof sees a business opportunity and smuggles the drugs from Mexico. After reading about a buyers’ club in New York, he sets up a similar one in Dallas to provide drugs for AIDS patients. He strikes a reluctant friendship with a transgender, Rayon and with his doctor, Eve, who realises the unfairness of a system that will not allow patients to follow alternative treatments.

While Dallas Buyers Club belongs to McConaughey, Jared Leto also grabs the eye for his gut-wrenching performance as Rayon. Jennifer Garner is good as Eve who wants to help her patients, but her hands are tied thanks to the senseless laws regarding testing.

The movie is up for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for McConaughey, and Best Supporting Actor for Leto. We will know tomorrow morning if the golden surfer dude will take home the golden man.

Genre: Biopic

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Storyline: An AIDS patient challenges the FDA

Bottomline: Riveting performances add to a gripping, touching tale