Film / Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 drama starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner.

The film is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), an electrician and rodeo fan who discovers in 1985 that he has HIV, when a workplace accident lands him in the hospital. After learning that the trial drug AZT, which he had been taking to treat himself, was ineffective, Woodroof begins smuggling unapproved drugs, first from Mexico and then further afield. With the help of Rayon (Leto), an HIV-positive transgender woman, Woodroof establishes the Dallas Buyers Club, dealing in drugs to help HIV-AIDS sufferers. Though Woodroof is opposed by the FDA, who attempt to shut down his operation, he finds support from Eve Saks (Garner), a doctor at a local hospital participating in the AZT trial. Saks witnesses first hand the attempts by pharmaceutical reps to get the drug FDA-approved and on the market, despite signs that the drug is proving ineffective in treating her patients, while causing significant, severe side effects.

The film proved a particularly epic Career Resurrection for McConaughey, won an Oscar for his performance, as did Leto. As a note, be cautious when editing tropes pertaining to this movie.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Ron was pretty much brought to the brink of death and saved himself and countless others without being a qualified physician, or biologist, or pharmacist and lacking both significant amounts of money and formal education in medical stuff. In just a few months he Took A Level In Intellectual Badass.
  • An Aesop: While the FDA's regulations against untested medicines are well-meaning and in some cases disaster-averting, like the thalidomide scare in the 60s, here they end up doing a lot more harm than good, and as the Reasonable Authority Figure judge states near the end of the film, even if the experimental meds end up having side effects, the AIDS victims who need them are dying and thus have nothing to lose by gambling with a new drug, and the law should reflect that.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: The scene where Ron is researching in the library and realizes he had most likely acquired HIV through unprotected sex with a hooker.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Doctor Vass qualifies. He's practicing in Mexico because his medical license was revoked in the US. With access to a wider variety of drugs than he'd have in the States however, he's also able to prescribe superior drug treatments for Ron's HIV.
  • Badass Boast: "There ain't nothin' out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days."
  • Bad Habits: Ron disguises himself as a Catholic priest with cancer when crossing the Mexican-US border with his drug supply.
  • Bait and Switch: One scene opens with Ron's face in close-up and he appears to be praying to God in front of an altar lit with candles. When the camera pulls back, it turns out that Ron is in a dimly-lit strip club, and he's actually talking to a stripper.
  • Beauty Inversion : Most of the women, including Jennifer Garner, are decidedly un-glamourous.
  • Binge Montage: Ron's initial reaction to his HIV diagnosis is to go on a drug and alcohol binge with his best friend and a couple of prostitutes.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Ron's motel room/office has a wall decorated for this purpose.
  • The Determinator: Ron travels around the world meeting with doctors and pharmaceutical reps to get the drugs he wants imported into the United States. After initially being told that he had just 30 days to live after his diagnosis, he actually lived a further seven years before finally succumbing to AIDS, and along the way fought against the FDA in court to allow him to bring the drugs into the country.
  • Doctor Jerk: Sevard.
  • '80s Hair: Particularly on the hookers.
  • Foreshadowing: An early scene in the film shows Ron and his friends discussing Rock Hudson's AIDS diagnosis.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Two prostitutes put on a show for Ron and his friend.
  • The Hedonist: Ron at the beginning, but he still swigs shots of whiskey and takes lines of coke with the AZT pills.
  • Heel Realization: Ron starts to realise what a homophobic asshole he is when Rayon turns down his drugs because "You don't deserve our money".
  • Hitler Cam: Inverted. Aside from dieting to starvation to be thin enough, the 6ft tall Matthew McConaughey is nearly always filmed from a slightly elevated angle to appear smaller and thinner.
  • Hookers and Blow: Ron and a friend indulge right after Ron's diagnosis. However he belatedly stops short of sexual contact.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hidden under quite a lot of homophobic racist sexist asshole, but Ron eventually reveals himself to be this trope
  • Loophole Abuse : "I don't sell drugs. I sell memberships. Welcome to the Dallas Buyers' Club."
  • Mighty Whitey: Ron is a straight white guy working hard to save the lives of LGBT people suffering from the same illness as him.
  • Nice Hat: Ron is rarely seen without a stetson.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When going to visit her father to ask for money, Rayon loses the wig, makeup and dresses and wears a men's suit and tie.
  • Parental Abandonment: Rayon is estranged from her parents, and when she meets her father to ask for a favour, it is clearly a painful experience for both.
  • Porn Stache: Ron, who with black hat and sunglasses looks an awful lot like Richard Petty.
  • Precision F-Strike : From Jennifer Garner: "I'm a fucking doctor."
  • Present Day Past: Most glaringly with the large poster of a Lamborghini Aventador (first made in 2011) behind Ron's chair in his motel office.
    • A lot of the TV sets that appear look a lot more recent than models from the mid eighties.
    • Much of the large-denomination currency sports the larger, off-center presidential portrait redesign that didn't debut until 1996.
    • During an early gambling scene at the rodeo, a "Bud Light" sign is seen featuring a version of the logo that wasn't in use until the 2000's.
    • Ron is diagnosed with HIV in 1985, but the name "HIV" did not come into use until 1986. Before then, the virus was called LAV/HTLV-III. However, the filmmakers probably did this so as not to confuse audiences who are not familiar with the history of AIDS.
  • Screw The Rules, People Are Dying Here!
  • Strawman Ball: None of the characters who support the FDA's drug policies present a reasonable argument of why drug approval is so slow, even though Both Sides Have a Point. For instance, someone could have mentioned that it was Dr. Frances Kelsey of the FDA who blocked the swift approval of the drug thalidomide in the 1960s, and thus spared America from the wave of horrific infant birth defects that occurred around the world when pregnant women took the drug. The difference here, as the judge states near the end, is that if you have a terminal illness, you really have nothing to lose, and the law should reflect that.
  • Three-Way Sex: The film opens with Ron having sex with two women in a rodeo stall. Later his friend T.J. is seen having sex with a pair of prostitutes after Ron passes up on them.
  • Title Drop: "Welcome to the Dallas Buyers Club!"
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Ron starts the film as a homophobic jerkass, but when he starts dealing drugs and spending more time with Rayon and his largely-gay clientele, he begins to see what an asshole he was. The turnaround is evident when he runs into his old friend T.J. while grocery shopping with Rayon. After T.J. refuses to shake Rayon's hand, Ron is offended and decides to teach him a lesson.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Woodroof is seen having sex with women and maintains throughout the film that he is straight, though there are reports that he was bisexual in Real Life. The characters Rayon and Eve Saks are not based on anyone specific, but are composite characters based respectively on AIDS patients and doctors who knew Woodroof.
    • Woodroof states one biggest regrets is he never had kids. However, the actual Woodroof was married and had a daughter.
    • The FDA never raided Woodroof, and shared a usually cooperative relationship with him. Woodroof also bought into quack remedies that could have killed him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The hospital janitor who smuggles out the AZT to Ron. It's a fair assumption they didn't speak or have contact once he told Ron he wasn't going to sell him anymore AZT, and Ron tried to punch him.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: After diagnosing him with HIV, Dr. Sevard tells Ron that he has about a month to live. Ron manages to see out that month, and with the right drugs he actually managed to survive for seven years after his diagnosis.