When we first meet our hero, Ron Woodroof, he is a rodeo riding, drug taking, free wheeling, womanising Texas cowboy. As the film progresses he changes into an extraordinary entrepreneur by necessity. He is straight and will fight with any man who calls him a 'fag'. He is diagnosed with AIDS, told he has 30 days to live. He is then galvanised into action to stay alive.
The year is 1985, the knowledge of the ways to treat this new epidemic was not only limited, but the medication approved by the FDA proves to be flawed. Unable to get what he wants legally, he is determined to help himself, and to start a business and to fund it by selling what he gets illegally.
A new character emerges. You can't take the cowboy out of the man from Texas, but he now employs him until now unknown entrepreneurial and business skills.
He first journeys is to Mexico where he is befriended by a unlicensed doctor and smuggles unapproved treatments back to Dallas. He starts a business selling these products to other desperate patients, while self treating.
His condition improves as does the other patients. As his condition improves, he employs a fellow patient and is able to sell the medication legally by forming a membership club, at least in the short term. His partner Rayon is a cross dressing 'fag', everything Woodroof used to detest, but a friendship develops and the business flourishes. Woodroof travels the world to find new treatments.
He is constantly hounded by the sheriff. He is finally forced to close the business and goes broke.
He takes on the FDA to get approval for his treatments which are keeping him alive, gets approval to self medicate, but not to continue selling. Later the FDA approves medications to treat AIDS, which include products introduced by Woodroof. One must conclude his defiance and persistence contributed to the saving of many lives. Doctor Eve Saks , played by Jennifer Garner, who was one of the first doctors to treat Woodroof, becomes a believer in his work and is sacked from the hospital for her trouble.
McConaughey dominates this film. The passion and defiance in his eyes is confronting. It is hard not to have compassion for him and his fellow sufferers. Woodroof is a charismatic man and it is hard to say no to him, except for the authorities.
Both McConaughey and Leto are nominated for Oscars. We will have to wait and see. The film is based on a true story. It is hard not to get caught up in a story about people waiting for death. This film is about individuals who fight to stay alive despite opposition from people who could, and should ,have helped them. The subject is confronting but not without humour. Woodroof lived until 1992, always a Texan. A must see.