Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: Living with AIDS in the 80’s SUCKED. You should read “And The Band Played On” by Randy Shilts to find out how much it sucked. Matthew McConaughey and, especially, Jared Leto were fantastic. Government can really suck sometimes.
Another true story movie. This one is about Ron Woodroof, a hard drinking, fast talking, drug addicted, womanizing, homophobic cowboy/electrician. You know, a Texan. Ron discovers that he has AIDS after an electrical accident and is given 30 days to live. After first rejecting the diagnosis, Ron quickly comes to his senses and starts stealing the trial drug AZT which he quickly overdoses on and almost dies. Ok, maybe he doesn’t come to his senses so quickly after all. After the overdose, Ron starts learning all he can about the disease and starts a club that gives away non-FDA approved medicines that do help prolong the lives of AIDS patients. He quickly gets in trouble with the FDA and must fight them as well as his disease as he tries to help AIDS patients and make a bit of money.
The 80’s were a really scary time for HIV patients. Not only did they have a disease with no known cure, but they were also demonized by the populace and the government. I highly recommend “And The Band Played On” by Randy Shilts if you want to know more about this dark time in U.S. history. It is a great accompanying piece to this movie. The amount of history that we live through and know nothing about is mind-boggling.
This movie has some top rate acting by Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof and Jared Leto as the cross-dressing eventual business partner, Rayon. They both also go through quite the bodily transformation as their AIDS progresses. Jennifer Garner as Eve Saks, a doctor sympathetic to Ron’s plight as he tries to bring an ease of symptoms to his club members is less effective. I found her acting in the beginning of this movie annoying, but she did grow on me a bit in the second half.
I think I should say something about the drug AZT as it and the FDA, are the main villains in the movie. There was a quick splash message at the end saying they eventually lowered the dosage of AZT to reduce some of the severe side effects of the drug, but you can easily come out of the movie thinking that AZT is bad. It is not. The FDA, on the other hand, is. Or was. Important lessons were learned from the HIV epidemic and changes were made to protocols when dealing with emerging viral threats. We’ll see how well that works the next time an outbreak that predominantly effects a disaffected minority occurs.