This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
"Silence = Death" was a particularly genius political slogan for AIDS activists in the 1980s. Potently succinct, righteously angry, and, best of all, both literally and spiritually true. The conversations it prompted about systemic gay oppression, political complacency, the importance of frank sexual discussion, and gay liberation -- particularly in regards to the fight against HIV and AIDS -- surely saved countless lives. But isn't it a curious thing that HIV/AIDS in the arts and entertainments still remains so tied to gay-only narratives of roughly a ten year window from the early 80s through the early 90s? Time to tell new stories from fresh perspectives? Enter DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, one of the first AIDS dramas (that I can recall at least) that is not about the gay community.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroff, a hard-living homophobe electrician. When we first meet him he's having a drug-fueled three way with two women behind the scenes at the rodeo. While we're watching him getting it on, he's watching a man getting gored at the rodeo. This opening sequence arguably shoves the entirely less useful 'Sex = Death' argument in your face, but the film quickly finds its footing as an involving drama about a man who doesn't know what's knocked him out and also is too damn stubborn to stay down.